Frances Beedon | February 2, 2019
The SAP (sustainability in action) project is a major event in the 8th grade year at Greenhills. I have interviewed students from each grade in the upper school, who have completed their own SAP projects in years past, and asked them to reflect over their experience.
Past SAP projects line the Main Street hallway.
What was your SAP project/what would you like your SAP project to be?
Katie (Junior): My SAP project was [about] the difference between paper textbooks and online textbooks and which one was better.
Violet (Junior): I did an SAP project on GMOs, so that's genetically modified organisms. So, I basically kind of tried to explain how they are not as bad as people view them to be, because people are like, “Oh, chemicals genetically modifying things! That's not natural!” But our main focus was how we [humans] have been doing that since the beginning of agriculture, like they would always replant the best seeds of corn. That's technically genetically modifying it. So that was basically our main point.
Sabeen (Freshman): We were studying unsafe disposal of medications. So like, people are flushing drugs and medicine down the toilet and it’s ending up in the water, people drink that water and get sick, basically.
Clara (Senior): My SAP was to install dual flush toilets in Greenhills.
Joey (Sophomore): So my SAP project was a way of designing a better air conditioning system for houses, which was an idea that wasn’t very fleshed out, and we didn't receive a lot of information on how to properly execute it. Also, we didn't have a lot of time for research, so we didn’t really understand what we were working on, but, that was the core concept.
Many projects examine the Greenhills community's impact on the environment around us.
Was your project successful and why?
Katie: It was successful because we figured out if there was one that was more successful. The results were actually that it depends on what subject it is, and that students actually preferred physical hard copy textbooks compared to online textbooks for most subjects.
Violet: I would say for what it was it was pretty successful, we tried to spread our message to people who saw our presentation, but I would have loved to continue it and try to make it more widespread.
Sabeen: It wasn’t really that successful because you can’t really make a prototype that's actually beneficial, unless you go to like, extreme areas to work on something. So our prototype was like a box that people put their unused medication in, but I feel like it didn't really work for the whole project in general. It was hard to build a prototype as students, because we are so limited in that sense.
Clara: I think, I mean, just as 8th graders we weren't going to be able to definitely make it happen. I tried doing math to like figure out, you know, when it would get paid back, but I didn’t put in all the factors. We talked to Mr. Nickel, so we did get that far, and he listened to us, he was like, “I think that this is cool,” but obviously it hasn't happened yet. But we presented to the middle school and also to Glacier Hills about how important water conservation is and how […] toilets that are made nowadays maybe use like 1.5-3 gallons of water, but [old toilets] used to use like 5 gallons, so we talked about how you have an old toilet that uses 5 gallons, that's just not really necessary so either replace it or install things in the toilet to make it use less [water].
Joey: No, not especially, we didn't really have any kind of work that met the deadlines. It was really hard to actually put stuff together, and that might have been due to our idea but also might have been due to the vague guidelines and somewhat strict deadlines that we were given. I’m not sure if that's changed now but, that's how it was for me.
This project used data from Greenhills' wind turbine and solar panel located on the green roof above the Junior Forum.
How did this impact your views on sustainability?
Katie: Well, we looked also at which one was more economically beneficial [...] and it was interesting showing that whichever is better from a sustainability standpoint, might not be necessarily what's preferred for other reasons. There are many different factors that go into it.
Violet: I think it made me think about the research aspect of sustainability a lot more, because I didn’t really know anything about GMOs, and what I knew was from like, people who didn’t really know what they were talking about. So I think just like, making sure that you don’t just take people's word for it, and if you want to know something about a certain topic, you really need to do your research.
Sabeen: Yeah, it actually did. I hadn’t really learned about sustainability in the past or like cared about it, but after looking at other projects and my own, I got a better insight on it.
Clara: Yeah, I learned that one of the toilets in my house uses 5 gallons of water every time you flush and I’m like “OK, not using that one anymore,” and I think I learned a little bit about water shortages around the world. I guess I also learned that like, even though getting 5 gallons down to 3 or 1.5 may not seem like much, there are things that you can do to improve your footprint, that is, to lessen your footprint, so these things just like, really are available, ready to go, and you can do them.
Joey: Not especially, only because we didn't get a lot of... it wasn't teaching us about sustainability, it was more like: “do this project!” None of us really cared enough to actually research deeper, and learn more about sustainability. If we had done an actual unit about sustainability and learned about it in class, I would've been more interested, but since the project was the only medium I had, it wasn't very fulfilling. It didn't create a lot of interest.