How Green Can Education Be?

How Green Can Education Be?

In short, very green. Panyaden, the school where I work, is a truly green school. I am fortunate to be able to teach in a school with a curriculum that allows the students lots of hands-on activities. Also, it’s a beautiful place to be.

The school buildings are gorgeously designed rammed earth and bamboo. There is no air conditioning, and although it’s in the high 90s F (mid-to-high 30s C) throughout the day, the buildings stay cool due to their intelligent design.

Panyaden canteen

detail of a bathroom ceiling at Panyaden

sala and Buddha

roof detail

window detail

I feel like I work in an art installation sometimes. Even though these pictures are lovely, it is so much more impressive in person. Come visit!

Besides the green architecture, I have gotten to do environmental activities with my students. They learned how to plant crops that would thrive in Thailand. The seeds were locally harvested for their food crops by a staff member from her garden.

planting papaya

planting lettuce

straw cover protects the seedlings from too much sun while holding in moisture

planting tomatoes

mature tomatoes

Students were responsible for watering their own plants and monitoring and measuring their growth.

Asking for advice from the Thai gardeners

Since it’s a bit hot down here in Chiang Mai, we took a field trip to an organic strawberry farm up in the Samoeng district. After the windy mountainous road up, tasting the delicious strawberries made it worth the long journey.

pink strawberry flower

looking for ripe strawberries

picking strawberries

strawberry farm

Back at school my students were learning about sustainable energy. At Panyaden, we throw our food scraps into a bin. This food waste gets ground up and put in a pressurized tank where it ferments. This somehow turns the food waste into biogas. This was explained in Thai and then my students explained it to me, so some details might be missing.

grinding up the food waste for biogas

Food waste is pretty stinky. The students were making vomit jokes.

The food waste is fermented in a big tank, and the gas is collected in these smaller tanks...

...and finally it is biogas that the kitchen staff uses for cooking.

Learning more about plants, students observed transpiration.

transpiration

We took another field trip to see a village on a river that uses hydropower for energy.

spirit trees

Throughout Thailand you can see trees wrapped in colorful cloths. Spirits are believed to live in certain trees. Monks wrap the trees in cloth and because of this, according to my students, they can’t be cut down .

Although, all these activities have been fun and interesting, the following one seemed to be a favorite: making a solar oven and cooking in it.

After we researched different designs, we used recycled materials on hand, and the students started designing their own solar oven.

measuring and cutting black felt for the inside of the solar oven

solar cookies

Our solar oven baking cookies in the sun! We also baked bananas and cinnamon apples, but they wanted to make cookies first, and I don't blame them.

With kids learning and practicing these ways to care for the environment, by growing food and creating alternative energy, it gives me a lot of hope for the future.

new building in the making.

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2 thoughts on “How Green Can Education Be?

  1. Wow! This reminds me SO much of the Green School I worked for in Bali, especially the architecture. The biggest difference is y’all seem to know what you’re doing. We had talented people at GS for sure, but the hubris of the owners kept many great ideas from getting off the ground. Awesome to see a school doing what we all wanted to see at GS! Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks Sammy Sam Sam,

      In case you and Fiona ever want to work in Thailand, it’s a pretty darn nice place to work. Thanks for the comment!!

      E

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