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STUDENTS LEAD THE WAY

Five thematic, hands-on, student-driven investigations make up the Kentucky Green Schools program. Using critical thinking and problem-solving skills, students analyze their school’s energy, water, school site, waste and recycling, and environmental quality. As a result of completing the investigations, students identify areas where improvements can be made to make their school greener and healthier, and in many cases save money!

Each Investigation Includes:

  • Teacher Guide

  • Overview & Background Information

  • Student Investigation Worksheets

  • Resources

  • Fact Sheets

  • Careers

  • and more!

How to Access the Investigation Guides

  1. Register to become a Kentucky Green School

  2. Create a free KAEE Site Member account

  3. Visit the Investigation Downloads page available only to Kentucky Green Schools.

 

 

Investigations are adapted from the PLT Green Schools program and the Kansas Green Schools program.

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The Investigations

Themed investigations help guide students through examining their school grounds and school’s energy use, waste and recycling, water consumption, and overall environmental quality. Learn about each investigation by clicking the icons below.

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Energy

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School Environment

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School Site

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Waste & Recycling

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Water

Energy

Energy may be the most important environmental issue of our time. If you think about nearly any other environmental issue — air or water quality, land use, transportation, global climate change, or solid waste management, to name some examples — you will find that it is related to the issue of energy. 

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This investigation will help students become more aware of the energy they use every day. They will see the connections between the energy they use, natural resources, and pollution. The results of the investigation will help students develop action plans for reducing energy use at their school.

Energy Investigation Objectives

  • Collect baseline data on energy use at your school and on the school’s physical environment.

  • Use monitoring equipment—such as infrared thermometers, watt meters, and light meters—to take various measurements and to record data.

  • Evaluate light quantity and quality to determine whether it supports optimal learning.

  • Assess lighting options for energy conservation.

  • Understand how individual and collective actions can affect energy use and the environment.

  • Discover the connection between energy use and the conservation of natural resources.

  • Learn about sustainable approaches to energy management and why it is important to adopt sustainable practices.

  • Generate a plan to reduce the school’s energy use and to improve the school’s overall environmental performance while cutting costs.

  • Implement one or more of your energy improvement strategies.

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Energy
School Environment

School Environment

Most people know that outdoor air pollution can damage their health, but many do not know that indoor air pollution can also have harmful effects. It may surprise you to learn that many schools harbor pollutants that can affect the health of students and those working in the school. 

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This investigation will help your team identify air quality and transportation management practices and will help in thinking of ways to modify these practices to make your school greener and healthier! Your results will inform school staff and students where they can make improvements and also to generate an action plan to improve school health for students and staff.

School Environment Investigation Objectives

  • Investigate the environmental quality at your school by collecting information and data on:

    • transportation choices and effects on the environment and indoor air quality; additional factors, such as humidity and carbon dioxide levels, that affect indoor air; the types of cleaning products used in the school; off-gasses from cleaning products, paints, and new building materials, and; hazardous materials on the school site.

  • Analyze the data collected and brainstorm ways to make improvements.

  • Develop an understanding of how individual and collective student actions can affect the environmental quality of the school.

  • Learn about sustainable approaches to transportation and cleaning, and why it is important to adopt sustainable practices.

  • Discover the connection between environmental quality and student health.

  • Generate a plan to improve your school’s environmental quality and overall sustainability.

  • Implement one or more of your improvement strategies.

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KGS & KY NEED Project Reciprocal Recognition Program

Both the KGS program and the Kentucky NEED Project address energy education through student-led teams that complete an investigation of energy use at their school. Any Kentucky school who submits the energy investigation in either program can receive mutual recognition and benefits in both programs. Learn more on our recognition page here.

School Site Investigation

Although most learning takes place inside the school, the grounds that surround the school building can have an important impact on student health and learning. Well-maintained, landscaped grounds can provide many benefits to students including a place to read, relax, and feel connected with nature. Outdoor areas can also be used to conduct experiments, plant a garden, or play sports. In addition, outdoor areas around a school can provide many environmental benefits and ecosystem services.

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This investigation will help your team identify improvements for your school grounds, and ideas to help local wildlife, flora and fauna, the school community, and your neighborhood, city, state, country, and world.

School Site Investigation Objectives

  • Observe and record the plant and wildlife species around the school, as well as natural habitats.

  • Assess gardening and composting possibilities on the school grounds.

  • Investigate the presence, health, value, and benefits of trees.

  • Learn how the school grounds are maintained and if sustainable practices are being used.

  • Assess the percentage of pervious and impervious areas on the school site.

  • Determine whether changes to the school site would encourage the use of outdoor spaces for classes, lunchtime, studying, and physical activity.

  • Develop an understanding of how individual and collective student actions can improve the school site.

  • Develop plans for improving the school site.

  • Implement one or more school site improvement strategies.

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School Site

Waste & Recycling Investigation

Waste management challenges bring together the fields of economics, environmental science, sociology, political science, health, and engineering. A more informed citizenry has the potential to come up with better solutions to our waste problems and knows the importance of reducing the amount of waste in our homes, schools and communities.

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Your team will investigate the waste stream at your school and look for solutions, gaining real-world experience in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Collect and analyze data on how much waste your school generates, and brainstorm ways to make improvements. Learn how reducing waste, reusing items, recycling, and composting save natural resources, energy, and landfill space.

Waste & Recycling Investigation Objectives

  • Collect data about the amount of waste thrown away, recycled, and composted during a single day.

  • Analyze the data and brainstorm ways to make improvements.

  • Develop an understanding of how individual and collective student actions can affect the waste stream.

  • Learn about sustainable approaches to waste management and understand why it is important to adopt sustainable practices.

  • Generate a plan to improve your school’s waste, recycling, and composting practices and overall sustainability.

  • Implement one or more of your waste improvement strategies.

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Waste & Recycling

Water Investigation

Because water is essential to all living things, water consumption will continue to be an important issue for generations to come. Although water delivery and treatment systems are sophisticated in many countries, the Earth’s population continues to grow, and continues to place ever-increasing demands on water consumption. A more informed citizenry has the potential to come up with better solutions to our water consumption problems and knows the importance of water quality and water conservation.

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This investigation will help your team identify water practices and will help in thinking of ways to identify ways in which your school can conserve water! Your results will inform school staff and students where they can make improvements and also to generate an action plan to improve water efficiency and conservation for students and staff.

Water Investigation Objectives

  • Assess water use in your school and on the school grounds.

  • Collect data about the consumption of water at the school.

  • Understand how individual and collective student actions can affect water conservation.

  • Learn about sustainable approaches to water use and why it is important to adopt sustainable practices.

  • Generate a plan to improve your school’s water conservation practices and overall sustainability.

  • Implement one or more of your water conservation improvement strategies.

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Water

This program is free to participate in thanks to our generous program sponsors.

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