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Since opening in 1999, the middle school has been highly involved in outdoor education, promoting conservation, sustainability, and helping native wildlife.
Due to the group’s ongoing efforts and successful projects and by going above and beyond to teach and implement sustainability initiatives in their school and larger community, Small Green Tech Academy the first school in Texas, and the 40th in the country, to achieve this “Green Flag” status.
Small Green Tech Academy has completed outstanding campus initiatives and programs through the collaboration of students, school staff, parents, and community volunteers in the Energy, Healthy Living, and School Grounds pathways:
Energy: Students completed classroom energy audits focusing on the types of light bulbs used, the length of time electronics are used/plugged in and the number of electronics in the classroom. They addressed any potential energy saving strategies within the classrooms and educated their peers and larger school community to do the same.
School Grounds: Over the year’s students, teachers and volunteers have transformed over 4000 square feet of barren space into native habitat for ruby-throated hummingbirds, monarch butterflies, song birds, small mammals and more. They have built a greenhouse, a meditative labyrinth, wildflower gardens, a rain garden and a reconstructed prairie. They also have productive food gardens, orchards, and habitat corridors.
Healthy Living: Students polled 50 non-Small Green Tech Academy students to see how often they were given opportunities to learn outside, what they were doing outside, and what activities they enjoyed most while being outside. Students evaluated the results and promoted outside opportunities and environments to teachers outside of the Small Green Tech Academy. They also designed different outdoor learning environments for students and teachers to enjoy such as an outdoor classroom, meditation gardens, memorial Grove of Champions, a disc golf course, a nature trail for hiking, a meditation labyrinth, bird watching benches, goat pen and a chicken coop that was featured on the 2014 Funky Chicken Coop Tour.
Small Middle School is an AISD “Green-Tech” campus that offers students a wide variety of classes in both the environmental studies and technology areas of study. Students can choose one program or both within the Academy. Small Green Tech Academy is the first school in Texas to receive the Eco Schools USA Green Flag Award from the National Wildlife Federation, and we want to share the innovative work we are doing to promote sustainability, especially the efforts related to teaching students about growing food. Some of the class offerings related to food include; “The World Outside,” “Native Plants and Animals of Texas,” Horticulture,” Biomimicry Nature Design,” and Environmental Ethics.” Students must also complete a Capstone Independent Research class, which includes a final project and presentation.
These are the teaching tools:
20-25 native plant and food garden beds around campus using hugelkultur, keyhole, herb spiral, and raised beds
2 National Wildlife Federation Certified Schoolyard Habitats
2 rain gardens
2 aquatic habitats
2 certified Monarch way stations and pollinator beds
3 friendly Nigerian dwarf goats
2 young native tree groves and forest
Labyrinth fruit orchard (with almost-ripe peaches!)
Solar panel/chicken tractor
500 gallon water cistern (displaying a mural painted by students)
Purple Martin viewing area
Small Green Tech Academy provides a unique learning environment for hands-on experiential learning and applied projects, which undoubtedly will encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, and even food.