Think Global, Act Local: Winter Term

Drawing inspiration from the United Nations' 17 Goals for Global Sustainability initiative, Derby Academy's Winter Term had Middle and Upper School students thinking globally and acting locally to tackle some of the biggest social and environmental challenges facing our world today. During the two-week term in early December, students enrolled in studios focused on issues of sustainability, access and consumption of resources, and adopting healthier lifestyles.
Students were able to take their research into the field. There, they met with experts and creatively investigated, engaged, and applied hands-on, solution-oriented designs to resolve challenges on both a global and local level. The approach brings together a mission-based experience for students and faculty to develop their global awareness and bring it back to the Derby campus.
Grade 4 and 5 studios focused on good health, well-being, and promoting healthier living by examining topics like sustainable food production, access to clean water and sanitation, and how communities can leverage natural resources to address emerging health issues. In the “Under the Sea” studio, students analyzed trash from the shores of Hingham’s beaches and studied erosion prevention design at the New England Aquarium to better understand the health of our oceans. Students went behind the scenes at Hornstra Farm, and even enrolled in a cooking school to learn how to cook with fresh ingredients. Visits to Weir River Farm showed how farmers are growing food responsibly and raising livestock humanely and sustainably.
Students in Grade 6 focused on designing the sustainable cities and communities of tomorrow by looking at how designers make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. Tying into the upcoming Future Cities Competition projects, students created cities that considered congestion, utilities, adequate housing, and infrastructure. A tour of the Braintree Electric Light Department and powerplant showed how engineers are utilizing technology to responsibly transmit and distribute power to Braintree and beyond.
Grade 7 and 8 students focused on resource consumption and production, as well as the ideas behind promoting energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, and providing access to resources. Students explored what it means to be “doing more and better with less,” and met with experts to discuss designing homes that could withstand natural disasters. Students analyzed resources in the “Play It Again” studio, while others investigated how coding can be used to build smart, sustainable homes. Studios connected with nature through art, literature, and science with a visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, while another studio researched how to water Derby’s greenhouse more efficiently. Installing a composting bin on campus and turning recyclables into art shed light on how we can reuse and repurpose materials.
At the end of the term, students presented their research and solutions, and evaluated Derby’s efforts in sustainability and use of resources on campus. Students even re-considered their own impact and approach to these global social and environmental topics. As the campus continues its goal of making more sustainable and healthier choices, students and faculty alike will be able to drawn upon their experiences during this special period at Derby.
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