Promoting Sustainable Transportation in the Real World

Just as Congress was busy putting the kibosh on useful transportation policies like Safe Routes to School, Earth Day Network’s Green Schools Program was out in the real world promoting sustainable transportation solutions. Last week, our Green Schools Coordinator, Josh Volinsky, helped to organize a showcase event in Newton, Massachusetts highlighting the innovation and learning that is taking place at Newton North High School.

Nine months ago, Earth Day Network, in partnership with the UPS Foundation, worked with Newton North to expand and modernize the biodiesel segment of their Greengineers program, making it one of the best in the country. Greengineers is a unique and successful program that puts students directly in charge of addressing a variety of sustainability issues. Led by Newton North teacher Steve Chinosi, the Greengineers’ innovative approach allows students to create and market their own sustainability solutions from identification through experimentation to implementation. The Greengineers are known for their utilization of “up-cycling” to find new, marketable uses for plastic bags, such as clothing and wallets; and of course, they have one of the most robust K-12 biodiesel programs in the nation.

During the event, Newton North was humming with inquisitive on-lookers. The lab was packed with whirring machines making biodiesel, but also twittering students, excited to show off their hard work. Filled with excited members of the community, the Greengineering lab was an inspiring place to be. VIPs from Senator Kerry’s office, the Massachusetts Secretary of Education, as well as Netwon’s Mayor and Superintendent were on hand to see just what kind of innovation these teenagers were cooking up. Rest assured, our Green Schools team can tell you that it was impressive. Students showed off their successful experiments including, among others, producing biofuel from algae and creating homemade, aquaponic production tanks. The Greengineers may be officially headed up by Chinosi, but he would be the first to tell you that the kids are the ones leading the charge. With brains like this concerned about the future of our planet, we’re confident that sustainable transportation is alive and well!