The Hunt’s Point congressional district in the South Bronx has been the poorest in the country for more than 20 years. It faces crippling poverty, endemic public health problems, and environmental degradation from industry pollution.
Educators at the area’s alternative Bronx Guild High School have their hands full just trying to get students to attend class. Needless to say, “going green” isn’t exactly their priority.
But an academic enrichment program supported by EDC, called GreenFab, is attempting to change all that. It teaches these low-income students about the emerging field of sustainable or green technologies, and it equips them with skills that could eventually set them apart in a competitive workforce.
Funded by the National Science Foundation’s Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST), this internship course provides students with classroom instruction in mechanical and electrical engineering, 3-D modeling, computer programming, sustainable design engineering, and community advocacy.
EDC’s role is to evaluate GreenFab through 2010 to improve the program’s effectiveness.
For example, EDC assesses how well the students create circuits, solder wires together, use solar energy to run model cars, and program LED lights. Through these and other activities, students walk away understanding sustainable energy—including the technology behind wind turbines—and recycling and upcycling (converting waste into products of better quality or higher environmental value). They might also discover a future career path.
“Green technology is a growing industry, yet there are not enough qualified professionals in the field,” says EDC’s Ashley Lewis.
In recent years, according to Lewis, it has become a trend for small school initiatives and alternative high schools to introduce green technology into the curricula.
“GreenFab seeks to increase participants’ technological and engineering fluency while providing a community and framework for students to explore ‘green collar’ or environmental jobs,” she says.
Originally published on October 18, 2010