Green Schools Built for the Extreme

What is Green Schools Built for the Extreme?

CIET member Livelybrooks is co-Director of the Oregon Title IIb “Content in Context” (C2) Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program involving 5 Lane County school districts: Eugene 4-J (lead), BethelCreswellCrow-Applegate-Lorane, and SpringfieldArcimotothe City of Eugene, the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB), Lane Transit DistrictLife Technologies, Inc.,  Oregon Dept. of Energy Cool Schools and others.  The Partnership focuses on developing 6 industry or research-modeled STEM student project curricula, 2 each for grade bands 5-6, 6-8 and 9-10.  All 33 C2 teachers attend six day-long ‘teacher field trips’ to industry, research and government science sites over the 2012-13 school year.  C2 teacher teams have been formed focusing on each project, and will adopt curricula into projects starting spring and summer, 2013, and testing them in their classrooms during the 2013-2014 school year.

One of the proposed grade 9-10 projects– Green Schools Built for the Extreme— teams university geophysicists, geotechnical engineers, and architects with science, math, and language arts teachers in creating and conducting high school student projects that addresses inadequacies in school sites that might lead to catastrophic failure in the event of a Cascadia megathrust event (large earthquake) or ongoing school energy inefficiencies.  “Green Schools… ” entails setting out research grade, broadband seismometers(e.g., Guralp CMG EMU or Tromino) to log approx. 3 months of data at school sites (including other elementary and middle schools within districts or district parnterships).  Data will be uploaded weekly during campaigns onto the IRIS Data Management Center (DMC).  With (lots of!) help from seismologists and Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, IRIS, teachers and students will analyze the data on a Antelope- and Matlab-equipped computer to characterize shaking at analyzed school sites, using seismic noise and small regional earthquakes as signals, and analyzing horizontal/vertical spectral ratios to characterize relative (school site) shaking.

After school sites have been characterized for shaking hazards, students will accompany structural engineers on site visits to determine school structural integrity in facing seismic hazards.  In some cases students will examine reports from previous inspections and forward questions to engineers to clarify specifics.  The ultimate goal of the ‘Built for the Extreme” portion of this project is to have students prepare reports and make presentations to district officials, including administrators and school boards, sharing data and analyses that demonstrate which schools are at seismic risk, and giving options regarding addressing those risks.

Seismologists/geophysicists from the University of Oregon (Toomey, Hooft, Livelybrooks) and Oregon State University (Trehu), along with geotechnical/structural engineering faculty (Mason) from Oregon State University will assist with teacher professional development and on-going classroom activities. This will constitute the ‘shakedown cruise’ for S@SS.

The other part of “Green Schools” entails students instrumenting school sites with sensors and loggers that record climate system performance data (e.g., temperatures, insolation, etc.) during campaigns to determine building energy efficiencies and comfort levels.  This is part of the Agents of Change Project developed at the University of Oregon (Kwok) and elsewhere.  High school students and teachers will again analyze data and summarize school building performance in reports and presentations to district officials.

Green School’s Teacher Field Trip

The teacher field trip for Green Schools Built for the Extreme was set for 26-April, 2013.

The Green Schools Built for the Extreme teacher field trip’s goal was to introduce the idea of how a school may be “designed, constructed and renovated to reduce the seismic risk and improve energy efficiency and liveability.” There were three visits on this field trip, each one focused on a different aspect of developing a full understanding of “the earthquake shaking hazards, structural seismic risk, energy and occupancy quality parameters.” The first visit on the field trip focused on data collection, including light, temperature, oxygen, carbon dioxide and sound. Upon data collection, the teacher’s focused on understanding what this data collected was telling them about the schools energy and occupancy quality parameters. The second visit on the field trip focused on an understanding of sustainable schools with an activity in developing Eco-Roofing. The third visit discussed in detail the seismic monotoring and data collection from the S@SS program. At this final stop, the teachers joined up with CIET to learn how to involve their classrooms to demonstrate how they will assess the seismic risk of their respective schools, in hopes of reducing the structural risk and shaking hazards in the future.

How Can I Get Involved?

If you are a high school science teacher or administrator, and your school district (or a consortium of nearby districts) has schools of older construction (circa 1930’s through 1970’s), please consider forming a S@SS team to attend the workshop.  Contact Dean Livelybrooks ( for more details.

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