Recycling isn’t something an afterschool robotics club would typically dedicate its time to, but the RoboTigers at Park Place Elementary are no ordinary club.
The RoboTigers won first place in the All-Earth EcoBot Challenge last year after launching an ambitious, school-wide recycling program and contest that resulted in 23,000 pounds of recycled material.
The impressive accomplishment was initially overshadowed by the pandemic. But nearly a year after being declared winners, Park Place finally had its time to shine last week as the RoboTigers received a plaque honoring their contributions to sustainability.
Sit down to a table at Bludorn Restaurant in Midtown, and you expect to see a few things: an airy dining room with high-end lighting, the wine wall with vintages from around the world, and artfully plated dishes with ingredients like maitake mushrooms, chermoula, and sea urchin.
But what you might not expect to see is a carrot—or Swiss chard or green beans or kale—planted, cultivated, and harvested by a third-grader just down the block.
So how do these vegetables make it from the hands of an elementary school student to the plate of a high-end restaurant with a Michelin pedigreed chef?
Just down Taft Street from Chef Aaron Bludorn’s flagship restaurant sits Gregory-Lincoln Education Center, and its school garden. Or, as Kellie Karavias calls it, the Cultivated Classroom.
Education and awareness play a critical role in creating a sustainable future — but it also requires action.
That’s why this April, HISD’s Energy and Sustainability department is asking campuses to show appreciation for the planet by taking the 2021 Earth Month pledge and participating in eco-friendly activities.
“Our students are global citizens. It’s important for them to learn about our planet and how they can help take care of it,” Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. “Earth Month gives us the opportunity to highlight our efforts to reduce our environmental impact while also promoting sustainable behaviors inside and outside the classroom.”
Campuses that take the pledge are encouraged to participate in designated Earth Month activities. They earn points for completed activities, which range from tallying the number of students who walked or biked to school to writing essays on the meaning of sustainability.