The Elementary School for Sustainable Design (ES4SD) is projected to open its doors in September of 2010.
Project Based Service Learning (PBSL) will be the primary method of teaching and learning employed at the Elementary School for Sustainable Design (ES4SD). The powerful inherent benefit of Project Based, Service Learning is that it is innovative, multidisciplinary and integrates real world skills, knowledge, and problem solving with best-practice strategies for teaching and learning. Service Learning engages the hearts, hands, and minds encouraging the whole community of learners to bring their interests into the learning process. PBSL enhances student understanding of citizenship (i.e. what it means to be positive, productive members in their communities) by engaging them in meeting authentic school and community issues, needs, or problems. At the ES4SD these issues, needs, or problems will reflect the areas of environmental sustainability through active service or advocacy. In PBSL, students take ownership of their whole learning process by creating outcomes of value to themselves and their communities. Service Learning requires students to interpret, analyze, synthesize, generate, and evaluate information about an area of study going well beyond mere recitation of information. By developing solutions to the community need, issue, or problem, students develop a more in-depth, applied understanding of academic content areas as well as non-academic competencies. Another great benefit of the PBSL methodology is that it creates the environment for students to work cooperatively. Students working in small groups and engaged in the many facets of authentic problem solving has the effect in the classroom of minimizing behavior related issues. Perhaps the biggest reason why PBSL works is because it is FUN. The ES4SD will use the actual physical facility, the school itself, as a 3 dimensional teaching and learning tool to achieve mastery of grade appropriate curricular objectives and state mandated standards. The school will also serve as a template in which to demonstrate cutting edge sustainable design, energy conservation, and alternative energy use. Integral to any Service Learning project is the active participation of real-world Community Partners. Under the umbrella of Project Based Service Learning, the Built Environment and Sustainability will be our prime focus. In our view, Sustainability will be the defining issue of the 21st century. Giving our youngest citizens the tools to function, compete and lead in the marketplace of sustainability will prepare them to be successful citizens/leaders in this global environment. Community Partnerships are the heart of Project Based Service Learning. Real world, professional partners provide expertise to assist students to address real world environmental issues. By bringing teachers, students, and professionals together in collaboration, these partnerships can bridge intergenerational, demographic, and cultural and digital divides. Furthermore, Community Partners model what it means to be good and successful citizens. To that end, The Elementary School for Sustainable Design will develop strong relationships with institutions like the American Institute of Architects, US Green Building Council, Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, the Philadelphia Water Department, and PECO/Exelon, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.