Northdale Middle School teacher returns from Green Boot Camp

A Northdale Middle School teacher was one of 70 selected globally to participate in Honeywell’s Green Boot Camp in San Diego, California, this June.

Minneapolis science teacher Darren Sjoberg, left, crouches beside Barta as they participate in a solar car derby.

Minneapolis science teacher Darren Sjoberg, left, crouches beside Barta as they participate in a solar car derby.Submitted photo

Brett Barta, a seventh-grade life science teacher, returned from the workshop June 27, teeming with ideas to engage his students this coming school year.

Out of more than 450 applicants, Barta was one of three Minnesota teachers chosen to travel to California for the week-long boot camp, now in its sixth year.

Green Boot Camp aims to bring lessons on sustainability and energy-efficiency into the classroom, equipping educators with the tools to make such lessons fun and engaging.

“Energy sustainability and conservation are among the most pressing issues facing our world today, and it’s important to help lay the groundwork for students who will fill the green jobs of the future,” said Paul Orzeske, president of Honeywell Building Solutions, in a press release. “Green Boot Camp aims to provide ideas and insights for teachers to help inspire and inform students to be more sustainably-minded and aware of energy conservation practices.”

Throughout the week, educators performed a variety of hands-on activities. They participated in a solar car derby, built rain barrels, constructed a miniature wind turbine and so much more.

The teachers were split into groups; Barta joined educators from China, Arizona, Ohio and more on Team ENERGY.

Since returning, he has kept in touch with a teacher from his team who lives in Florida. The two of them plan to host a solar car derby simultaneously and have their classes compete over Skype, and they are working together to write grants for materials because they don’t come cheap.

“I’m excited,” Barta said. “I don’t know how I’m going to come up with all the money, but that’s something I’ll deal with this summer.”

He had nothing negative to say about the boot camp.

One of his favorite days was spent volunteering at A Reason to Survive, a children’s art center in a low-income neighborhood.

The crew of 70 teachers built rain barrels, did some landscaping, painted up a storm and more.

The kids were wowed, Barta said. “That was the most rewarding part for me. It’s all about the kids.”

Before applying for the boot camp, Barta had already been dreaming up ways to make his classroom activities more sustainable. He intends for one of his classes to go paperless next year, turning in all work digitally.

After his experience in California, Barta is definitely going to apply for Honeywell’s Educators @ Space Academy program, hosted annually in Alabama, he said.

Olivia Koester is at
[email protected]

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