Sustainable Design


Sustainable Design

Today, Ms. Domby’s 5th Grade class listened and provided feedback to a presentation from 4 of the Upper School iDiploma students. The topic was how do we make sustainability part of our DNA at Mount Vernon? The feature was a prototype of a recycling/landfill bin designed and tested by the students.

The presentation and the exchange were both impressive. It’s fascinating to see Middle and Upper School students interacting with one another to solve problems and make their school a better place. There are a number of students and faculty who are passionate about sustainability and specifically recycling. They have been exchanging ideas online throughout the semester and met at a session during the Collider conference a few weeks ago.

Ever since arriving at Mount Vernon six years ago as Director of Admissions, I have been frustrated by the combination of black trash cans and blue recycle bins that have greeted visitors in the doorway of every single classroom. Often tripping over the unsightly combination of plastic containers and overflowing bits of garbage, the positioning of these items is unwelcoming and poor fung shui.

This fall, we removed the individual, blue recycling bins from each room and replaced them with a single, larger recycling bin at the end of each hallway. This shift has solved the problem of cluttered entry ways, but has not improved the culture of sustainability and recycling that many in our community hope to achieve. Today’s presentation was a positive step in that direction.

The prototype included two bins: one labeled Recycle and the other labeled Landfill. Landfill is more appropriate than trash as the students wanted to help the average user visualize the end result of their disposal, hoping instead to inspire them to use the recycle bin when appropriate. The prototype bin is much larger than the original blue bin, but it is still in the early stages. The students shared future visions of 3 higher res prototypes made of wood, plastic, and something else.

The proto-bins were tested in 3 classrooms and used maki-maki technology to count the number of times the bins’ doors were opened. It revealed a 100% increase in use. Impressive data!

The Middle School students gave great feedback, encouraging an even larger size bin. They also recommended putting the bin on wheels so its positioning around the room was flexible. After all, learning demands flexible and interactive spaces. So does sustainability.

Well done! I’m proud of our students, teachers, and their collaborative efforts. Truly, they are living and practicing the MV Continuum and principles of design thinking. I love my School.

What are your ideas for a new and improved system for making sustainability part of our DNA?

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