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Sustainable Solutions: PBL on Environment + Poverty among Rural Guatemala+NY Inner-City+Hawaiian Schools

Your Name and Title: Frederic Bernal Lim, MSc-Edu; Learning Specialist/ESL



School, Library, or Organization Name: St HOPE Leadership Academy (New York)



Co-Presenter Name(s): Lacresha Berry (5th grade Social Studies, Science; Sustainability Coordinator)



Country from Which You Will Present: United States



Language in Which You Will Present: English



Target Audience (such as primary school teachers, high school administrators, students, etc.): Middle School teachers and administrators



Short Session Description (one line): Sustainable Solutions: PBL on Environment + Poverty among Rural Guatemala + NY Inner-City + Hawaiian Schools



Full Session Description (one paragraph minimum):


    We are featuring a school-wide, Project Based Learning model on Environment + Poverty to connect middle-school educators and classrooms in three geographically different locations to promote Global awareness and Sustainability. Our goal is to learn from each other’s environments and offer real-world solutions to the problems from data we will share. We are based in Harlem, New York. The other educators and classrooms are in rural communities in Quiche, Guatemala and Hilo, Hawaii.

A recent directive from the mayor of New York City to the Department of Education called the “Sustainability Initiative” provides an excellent jumping point for this PBL. The initiative encourages schools to save Energy, Recycle, follow a Green Curriculum, and focus on Ecology.  Providing a foundation for academic rigor is a curriculum guide from “Kids Can Make a Difference” called Finding Solutions to Hunger. The Teachers Guide has been used successfully in other schools, so we hope to use it to propel our projects since it covers the Environment and an aspect of Poverty that requires solutions: Hunger.


Global Awareness is one of the key outcomes that we would like to feature in our session. We would like that our students focus on

  • New York Inner-City problems of diverse population, density issues, and lack of obvious growing space for edible vegetables and herbs.... as well as the unique problems that beset the rural community of Quiche, Guatemala and the Big Island of Hawaii.
  • The class of middle-school students in Guatemala is fostered by a small group of indigenous women who are known as the village healers. They provide extracurricular classes for the Mayan students who go to Guatemalan public middle schools. The women teach them Mayan culture and traditions as part of healing the collective psyche brought on by 36 years of civil conflict and genocide that eradicated 80% of the indigenous Mayan population. They hope to teach self-sufficiency and sustainability through ecology project such as farming.
  • And in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we feature students whose schools are part of an effort to study ecology issues that relate to the special environment inherent to the big, volcanic island they call home. Idyllic as Hawaii sounds, there are environmental and social problems resulting from rising population density and rising cost of living.
  • Three very different places, but with very similar problems!

We would like to show Global Competency in our PBL such that student will investigate the world via penpals in the other two locations. Students glean information from asking intelligent questions from their peers. We share information demographics, culture, and food growing on common websites to get more information. Perspectives and ideas from this exchange are then weighed and reflected upon.  As students begin to see themselves as agents of change, action can then be taken in the form of plans that are generated and crafted in-class and applied out of the classroom. Educators apply and guide students with disciplinary and interdisciplinary expertise (Math, Science, Social Studies, ELA, ESL).


Inspired action will hopefully solve some local real-world problems as students visit local experts and, again, share information globally as the weeks progress. For example, experts in acuaculture farms, projects in window farming, soup kitchens, hospitals, greenhouses, forestry, horticulture--can all be asked to talk and help locally and virtually. By mid-spring 2013, we would like to see community gardens sprout the first of many edible and salable vegetables and herbs on St HOPE’s rooftop garden in the middle of Harlem; in the community growing farm in Quiche, Guatemala, as well as perhaps a wall garden in Hilo, Hawaii.


These are the challenges and motivating factors that can help 3 communities at once examine and challenge themselves.  Impetus is given to tackle their environmental and hunger problems from impoverished conditions with sustainable solutions as they become active citizens of the world.



Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session:
http://schools.nyc.gov/community/facilities/sustainability/default.htm
http://www.kidscanmakeadifference.org/
More to be added.

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Thank you for your presentation in the 2012 iEARN Virtual Conference and Youth Summit.  Attached is a certificate of appreciation.

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