Solving All of the Problems, Dumpster Style

High school students in Skillpoint Alliance’s Velocity program applied problem-based learning to create Dumpster Project-inspired solutions. Skillpoint’s Velocity program provides hands-on training to STEM students who tackle real-world problems for their business or nonprofit clients. Students form consulting “companies” who research and design their client’s projects, complete a business and financial plan, and prototype or pilot implementation. Students at Del Valle High School and Manor High School took on two very different Dumpster Project challenges.

Manor High School students incorporated two different Dumpster challenges into a comprehensive water-energy plan during their spring Velocity Capstone program. Students researched current and future water and energy needs then incorporated a combination of approaches to model a net zero dumpster home. One of their design parameters was portability, so the students included portable grey water treatment and even repositionable garden beds as part of their plan. Brittany Foley, a Huston-Tillotson Environmental Studies major and Green is the New Black member, served as facilitator/mentor for the Manor High students.

Del Valle students present their final product to the Dumpster Project team.
Del Valle students present their final product to the Dumpster Project team.

Del Valle High School students participated in the summer Velocity Prep program. These students were asked to channel the educational goals of the Dumpster Project and engage other students in sustainability learning. The Del Valle group met the challenge by designing and building an informational mobile app and two Dumpster Project games. Their “Design a Dumpster” game, aimed at older students, allows players to customize a dumpster with water, energy, and appliances. After the Dumpster is built, students can see their dumpster’s impact footprint. These students had no prior coding experience.

One of the strengths of problem or challenge-based learning is providing students with a task that unlocks their creativity while providing the structure and tools they need to follow up on their vision. Active learners provided with the resources they need become empowered learners. We look forward to more collaborations that ask students to design for the Dumpster!