By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Southborough – Students at Southborough’s Neary Elementary School spent June 18 studying clean energy as part of an effort to engage young children in environmental conversations.
Held on a day where temperatures outside the un-air-conditioned school soared past 90 degrees, the day offered a chance for students to engage with concepts from their classes, and teachers the opportunity to educate a new generation about climate change.
“The more familiar they are with the vocabulary, the terms, the problems that we face, the more we can pull on that information when they’re in their science class,” said school employee and event organizer Tim Daloisio. “They might see something and say ‘I wonder if this might work’ because they know the context.”
Funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (CEC), the program gathered all students at the Neary School in the gym before breaking them into groups.
Students then viewed videos about climate change in their classrooms, played climate change board games and built models of renewable energy generators such as windmills, solar farms or hydroelectric turbines.
Those activities came after both the fourth and fifth grades learned about sources of energy and human affects on ecosystems. For teachers, those activities were exciting.
“This is a great way to take that classroom learning and then build some applied fun science into the curriculum,” Daloisio said.
The program is one of several the Massachusetts CEC has now run across the state for two years. In the past, they’ve run programs everywhere from Boston to Worcester.
The program came to Southborough this year after a successful grant proposal from the Neary School that Massachusetts CEC CEO Steve Pike said impressed his group with its detailed plan for the day.
“That’s the primary piece of it that we’re looking for, to make sure that they have that hands-on engagement, that hands-on experience,” he said.
Proud of his school’s proposal and winning of the grant, Daloisio is grateful to the Massachusetts CEC, noting that, when he was in school, such groups simply did not exist.
“On a school budget, it’s hard to pull together something of this scale,” he added. “So it’s really helpful to have additional resources to help think creatively about how to solve these problems.”
As climate change continues to make its impact felt on both a local and global scale, Daloisio said he hopes his school can bring the program back in future years.
“Next year, we’ll have half of our school that has never experienced this,” he said. “So it’s definitely something that we want to make sure that we’re keeping in our curriculum so that we can create not just one group of kids that can solve these problems but a whole generation of them.”
(Video by Dakota Antelman)