You ever watch the film Waterworld? I just watched it again on Netflix. Beyond marvelling at the fact that Kevin Costner had flippers for feet, I was equally fascinated with the futuristic technology presented in the movie. The giant boats were powered by a combination of levers and cranks beneath the surface, and water was purified using centrifuge technology that separated oil slick seamlessly from sea water.

Waterworld was WAY ahead of its time.

There’s another school, hidden in the jungles of Bali that is also WAY ahead of its time.

The Green School of Bali uses cooking oil to power its buses and solar panels to power its classrooms.

Their end goal- a zero carbon footprint, and students that understand how to make that happen. And students are making that happen every day.

Through their Middle School ‘Quest Student Changemaker’ program, each grade 8 student takes up a personal passion project to create a more sustainable future.

The Project (s)

Quest projects combine the two most essential ingredients for effective project-based learning: Passion + Purpose. Green School ‘Guides,’ the 21st century version of ‘teachers,’ help ask the kind of questions that surface these passions, and connect them to a higher purpose. One perfect example of this symmetry was when one bright eyed seventh grader took a concept/ passion he picked up in 5th grade, and applied it to the profound purpose of helping the school  generate more sustainable energy. Ustay (please replace with correct name) built sustainable stairs. Through sensors and complex circuitry hidden underneath the Bali School stairs, the sustainable ‘electro stairs’ can capture motion and convert it to energy every time a student takes a step.

Ustay worked tirelessly to perfect the concept, presenting the concept to teachers and outside experts, gaining valuable feedback from his trans-disciplinary project guide through each iteration. The culmination was a ‘Capstone TedEx’ presentation for the community. And whereas most projects end after 6-8 weeks, Ustay’s project is ongoing. He is now using this project as a case study to help expand the technology and offer it to the wider community.

The Transformation 

The ‘electro stairs’ project did more for Mark than help spark an interest, they helped liberate and unleash his mind:

“Instead of being jailed in a concrete box, what you have instead is that you are able to experience so much more. You know, you look at these things in your textbooks, and you learn about these theories, but you never get to implement and DO it! And that’s what the Middle School Program provides. As an 8th grader about to graduate, I feel its given me so much and I will cherish these experiences moving forward.”

Ustay’s trans-disciplinary guide David also describes his transformation:

“It’s been one of the great privileges of my career, to see Ustay grow during his time in middle school. He’s an individual who’s really able to internalize the values and lessons that we learn here at Green School, and apply it to his own life. To see that grow over his three years in Middle School, from somebody who knew that he wanted to make a difference to somebody who can and does make a difference in his community, that to me shows to me that he’s going to be the kind of young person who’s going to go out and change the world! – David Purcell, Middle School Teacher Literacy and Thematics

The Green School concept is taking root in an age where sustainability, community, altruism, health and well-being must take precedence over individual interests and profit margins. It’s a concept that just might save the planet.

Hear from Ustay and learn more about the ‘Quest Student Changemaker’ Program in the video below.