They call themselves the Green Team: 13 ninth-grade girls from some of the most blighted neighborhoods of Brooklyn along with their teachers and mentors, professors from Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly). For Earth Day, April 22, they will share their passion for math, science and engineering with boys and girls throughout the city.
The result will be a day of technological inquiry into sustainability, career advice and a contest in which teams of sixth through ninth graders from throughout New York City will challenge each other’s abilities to create models of energy-efficient houses.
The day-long Green Expo at the Urban Assembly Institute of Math & Science for Young Women (UA Institute) is expected to draw up to 100 students plus their teachers from across the city plus NYU-Poly students and professors as well as professional engineers from National Grid, which is sponsoring the event as part of an initiative to address the anticipated acute shortage of utility engineers called “Engineering Our Future.” Also participating will be green architects and representation from Pratt Institute’s Center for Sustainable Design Studies.
Students will spend the morning learning about career opportunities, sustainable engineering and ways to conserve energy. In the afternoon, they will compete to build models of energy-efficient houses. While the blue-ribbon panel judges their models, an artist will lead a workshop on how to repurpose found items.
“Since its founding in 2006, NYU-Poly has been an enthusiastic partner in sharing our passion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics with the young women of UA Institute,” said Dr. Dianne Rekow, NYU-Poly provost. “Thanks to the Green Team, our enthusiasm for solving the world’s most difficult problems will be shared with students throughout the city. We also owe a debt of thanks to National Grid, which is sponsoring this day and has also been a true partner over the decades in many NYU-Poly initiatives to develop engineering talent.”
Added Kiri Soares, co-principal of UA Institute: We are so fortunate to have such a strong partnership with NYU-Poly. We have the shared vision of encouraging young women to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-based careers, which is why events like this are so important. We are also very excited to have the opportunity to work with National Grid, a recognized leader in the fields of energy and engineering.”
Loretta Smith, National Grid director of corporate giving, said: “National Grid is taking action through ‘Engineering Our Future’ to inspire youth and attract and develop engineers to make sure there are enough engineers in the future workforce. We have already invested more than $3 million in ‘Engineering Our Future,’ and we are happy to partner with organizations like NYU-Poly and UA Institute to encourage students of all ages and backgrounds to study math, science, technology and engineering in order to create a corps of smart, dedicated and highly trained engineers who will develop innovative technologies and renewable energy solutions to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers.”
The Green Team had its roots in last summer’s enrichment program developed by NYU-Poly and the UA Institute with support from the Teagle Foundation. The curriculum and related field trips focused on the principles of consumption, sustainability, alternative energy, renewable energy, ecology and climate change. The theme of environmental justice emerged as a common thread. Students discussed obstacles to and opportunities for helping to “green” their communities while promoting environmental awareness and conservation at home.
For the class project, the students began transforming the school’s underused and unsightly concrete courtyard into a green space and outdoor classroom. A LEED-certified architect volunteered to help the girls design the space and scale blueprint drawings; parents helped construct benches and vegetable beds. Students soon will be able to experience nature up close, conduct experiments, learn the fundamentals of life cycle analysis and understand the positive and negative effects of various environmental choices. The final touches — including green roof models — will be installed in the future.
The energy and engagement of the students led the UA Institute administration to expand the sustainability efforts into a year-round initiative — aptly named “The Green Team.” The Green Team serves as the school’s core sustainability leaders and “Green Ambassadors.” It connects with mentors and a wide variety of businesses, organizations and educational programs.
About Polytechnic Institute of New York University
Polytechnic Institute of New York University (formerly Polytechnic University), an affiliate of New York University, is one of New York City’s most comprehensive schools of engineering, applied sciences, technology, and research, and is rooted in a 156-year tradition of invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship: i2e. The institution, founded in 1854, is one of the nation’s oldest private engineering schools. In addition to its main campus at MetroTech Center in downtown Brooklyn, it offers programs at sites throughout the region and around the globe. NYU-Poly has centers in Long Island, Manhattan and Westchester County; globally, it has programs in Israel, China and will be an integral part of NYU's campus in Abu Dhabi opening in autumn 2010.
About Engineering Our Future
National Grid is an international energy delivery company. In the U.S., National Grid delivers electricity to approximately 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island, and manages the electricity network on Long Island under an agreement with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). It is the largest distributor of natural gas in the northeastern U.S., serving approximately 3.4 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island. National Grid also owns over 4,000 megawatts of contracted electricity generation that provides power to over one million LIPA customers. For more information, visit www.nationalgrid.com.
Karen Young, National Grid