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Nestled in a small Vancouver, Washington neighborhood, Sacajawea Elementary School is a part of a close-knit community with an incredibly diverse population. As a school, Sacajawea Elementary is committed to better understanding their relationship with their surrounding environment and to discover and teach ways that students, teachers and staff can improve their relationship with the natural world through environmental stewardship and responsible living. Their teachers are committed to helping students explore their role in the health of the planet through comprehensive environmental education and sustainability.
As active participants in the Washington Green School Program, they were the first school in the state to be awarded level 2 and level 3 certifications through the program. Educators and staff have integrated environmental education into many part of the school's curriculum. Fourth grade teachers take their students on monthly walking field trips to the local stream so that the students can conduct water quality tests and examine macroinvertebrate species. Kindergarten and first grade students examine changes in plant life and weather patterns through on-campus nature walks. Third grade students conduct waste audits to monitor the effectiveness of the school’s recycling and composting programs.
Sacajawea has been working diligently for the past several years to decrease their environmental impact and encourage students to explore the idea of environmental stewardship. As a Renewable School project through Solar 4R Schools, the school is able to lessen their environmental impact by producing clean energy via their 6-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system, provide students with a new area of environmental stewardship to explore, and share their commitment with the community at-large.
Educators within the school received a customized renewable energy teacher training, hands-on science kit materials to augment the school's existing curricula, and complete access to the resources available on the Solar4RSchools.org website. To optimize integration of renewable energy science and technology content, every aspect of the support provided by Solar 4R Schools was customized to fit the unique focus of the school community, including topics covered in the teacher training as well as our recommendations for activities and science kit materials to make integration of this new content as efficient as possible. Energy monitoring services provided to the school connected the live performance data from their PV system to the Energy Exploration Center at Solar4RSchools.org. Students and educators nationwide can chart, graph and analyze the system's performance data for educational purposes.