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The Green Revolution Gains Speed at ACCESS EXETER

"Call Your Senator" proclaims the sign at Exeter Farmer's Market where students get experience advocating for a Greener Earth

August 18, 2009

ACCESS EXETER, a summer program designed for 8th and 9th graders, is going green like never before. This is the second year of the Project Exeter: Greener Earth cluster, one of 6 clusters offered. Co-taught by 3 faculty, Greener Earth focuses on environmental science, political science and art (art activism and green design).

Mosaic in the shape of a footprint, created from recycled bottle capsGregory, who hails from Palo Alto and is going into 8th grade in the fall, chose Greener Earth "because I really wanted to learn about environmental issues." He enjoys the three sub-areas: Alternative Energy Sources, Advocating Change, and Why Art: Creating for a Plant at Risk. "Each of the individual components of the cluster appealed to a certain interest of mine," he adds.

On any given day, the 28 students enrolled in Greener Earth meet as a class in each of the topic areas. They may look at transportation or alternative energy sources in environmental science class; run a phone bank, explore legislation, or perform campus-wide surveys in political science class; and design a sustainable building or develop a video in art class.

"Ideally, what a student does in each of our courses adds to their overall understanding about the idea of sustainability," says Erik Janicki, environmental science instructor for the cluster.

  See videos created by students at the WhyArt2009 Channel on YouTube…

Gregory, who identifies the YouTube video as the most exciting project he’s done so far, plans to join his school’s environmental committee when he returns home. He’s also eager to keep making videos. "I want to continue creating awareness about this global issue, mainly focusing on climate change. I hope to be able to use the tools I have gained this summer for the good of my community."

Here are just a few of the projects the students have undertaken in the 5-week program:

  • Large-scale mosaic created from used bottle caps, which held pride of place in the Exeter library for several weeks. Looking like a huge human foot, the mosaic communicated a clear message: "Watch your environmental footprint!" Read more about this project at the Exeter Library blog…
  • 3-day trip to Boston where students visited the Harvard Museum of Natural History’s exhibit on climate change and the Harvard Office of Sustainability Programs. They also visited two architectural firms working on sustainable design projects: Moskow Linn Architects and CBT.
  • Campus water tasting ("Take Back the Tap!") designed to inform the Exeter community that tap water is good to drink, and good for the environment since it can be easily “bottled” in reusable containers without waste.
  • Phone banking across the country to encourage others to take action on environmental sustainability legislation. 
  • Creative green building design culminating in architectural models.

For these young students, the interlacing of science, politics and art has been a great way to understand complex issues. Doug, who lives in Boston, identifies the following key facts he has learned:

"How rapidly our climate has been changing, and how evidence shows it is caused by human activity in large part."
"Different ways to reduce our ecological footprint, such as using public transportation, using stainless steel water bottles, eating less meat, taking shorter showers, and turning electronics off when I am done with them."
"Less than 1% of Earth’s water is drinkable."
"You could save hundreds of dollars by buying a stainless steel water bottle!"

Students at Exeter Farmer's Market host a water tastingDoug concludes: "Getting a chance to engage with our peers and share our concerns about our current environmental situation, and giving them advice on how to reduce their ecological footprint, has been a pleasure."
Greener Earth is co-taught by Janicki (environmental science), Jennifer Wilhelm (political science), and Isaac Bingham ’97 (art and design).


Interested in learning more?

Read more about ACCESS EXETER’s programs for 8th and 9th graders…

Learn more about Exeter’s Summer School programs for students entering 10th grade through first year of college…