Congratulations GREEN TEAM Prize Winners!

Underwood and Mason-Rice were the Newton winners of The Green Team Prizes! We are proud of the hard work and dedication of all students, educators, and parents who teamed up to improve recycling (and composting) in their  schools. 

From The Green Team

“Congratulations on all of the wonderful environmental activities you and your students completed this year! We have posted the full list of GREEN TEAM activities accomplished at schools across the state. Even with schools closing early this year, your work and results are amazing and inspiring! Check out the new photos in the GREEN TEAM Photo Gallery and stories in the GREEN TEAM Spotlight to see some of our amazing GREEN TEAM students in action!”


The Green Team: Activities to teach students about air quality

Original post from The Green Team – 

This week’s topic is Air Pollution. THE GREEN TEAM has created or collected the following activities and resources to teach students about air quality and the ways that they can make an impact to reduce pollution:

The Green Team: Resources to teach about gardening and pollination

Original post from The Green Team – 

May 15 is Massachusetts Plant Something Day! By planting just one flowering plant, students can help provide pollen and nectar for pollinators. These beneficial birds and insects pollinate gardens, which allows fruit – like juicy tomatoes, apples, and squash – to grow later in the season.

THE GREEN TEAM has gathered the following resources to teach students about gardening and pollination:

The Green Team: Reducing Energy Consumption

Original post from The Green Team newsletter – 

This week’s featured topic is Reducing Energy Consumption. Teaching students to conserve energy introduces them to the value of energy efficiency. Students can see how reducing their energy consumption can have a daily impact on their school and home energy use.

Here are some activities and lesson plans that THE GREEN TEAM has created or collected around Reducing Energy Consumption:

  • THE GREEN TEAM Light Bulb Energy Efficiency Lesson: Aligned with Massachusetts curriculum standards, this lesson plan, answer key, and pledge card encourages students to calculate the impact of switching to more energy efficient light bulbs as an action to prevent climate change.
  • Cambridge Energy Alliance Energy Efficiency Lesson Plans: This document compiles a number of activities and lesson plans on energy efficiency, organized by activity length and topic. Easily adaptable for home use, these lesson plans engage students with hands-on projects on subjects such as wind energy, energy conservation, and insulation. Though there is mention of CFLs being energy efficient, students should know that LEDs can be more efficient.
  • Energy Vampire Hunt from the Earth System Science Education Alliance: Students will learn how devices use energy at different stages of activity and identify what electronics are considered energy vampires.

Food Waste Reduction Activities and Lesson Plans

Original post from The Green Team  – 
April 09, 2020

Welcome to the first edition of our weekly eblast sharing environmental education resources that your students can do from home. We hope these emails will help support efforts to engage your students in remote learning while schools are closed.

This week’s featured topic is Food Waste Reduction. Many families purchased extra food in the rush to stay well stocked at home, or are trying to stretch the food they have available to last longer. Now is a great moment for your students to learn about methods of reducing wasted food and composting food scraps.

Here are some activities and lesson plans that THE GREEN TEAM has created or collected to teach your students about the importance of composting and food waste reduction:

  • THE GREEN TEAM Compost Lesson: In this lesson plan, students will learn how soil organisms recycle organic wastes through composting. It has been aligned with Massachusetts curriculum standards for Math, English Language Arts, and Science & Technology/Engineering. Also, check out this quick and easy compost guide: Composting is Easy!
  • Waste-Free Snacks Challenge: As part of the Green Education Foundation’s Waste Reduction Challenge, this activity asks students to think critically and analyze the waste produced from their daily snacks and lunch, and invites them to explore alternatives that generate less packaging and food waste.
  • Save the Food: This website, sponsored by the AdCouncil and National Resource Defense Council, includes tools, tips, practical guidance on how to reduce food waste through proper planning and storage techniques, and impactful videos.

Watch The Extraordinary Life and Times of Strawberry:

The Extraordinary Life and Times of Strawberry

Follow the journey of a strawberry from the farm to the refrigerator to understand all that it takes to bring your food to you. Did you know that 40% of our food ends up wasted? Wasted food is the single largest contributor to landfills in the US—not to mention that it wastes water, labor, fuel, money, & love!

Webinar: Learn How “The Green Team” Can Benefit Your School & Classroom

Mass DEP’s The Green Team will be hosting an informational webinar on January 29, 2020 from 3:30-4:30 pm. The webinar will discuss how schools and classrooms can benefit from The Green Team resources, including free curricula, lesson plans & activities, composting & idling reduction equipment, and recognition & prizes for students. You can register for this free webinar here.

What: The Green Team Informational Webinar
When: January 29th, 3:30-4:30PM
Where:  At your desk, on your computer
How much: Free


The Green Team is an interactive educational program that empowers students and teachers to help the environment through waste reduction, recycling, composting, energy conservation and pollution prevention. Participating classes receive certificates of recognition and are eligible to win awards.

The Green Team is a program of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

8 Newton Schools Registered with the MassDEP Green Team

Have your school joined yet? THE GREEN TEAM is a program of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection that offers many great resources for schools, including free curricula, lesson plans & activities, composting & idling reduction equipment, and recognition & prizes for students.

Learn why and how to register for The Green Team here. Or sign up for a free webinar on Jan 19th.

For the 2019-2020 school year, these eight Newton schools have already registered with The Green Team:

  • Cabot Elementary School
  • Peirce Elementary School
  • Zervas Elementary School
  • Underwood Elementary School
  • Franklin Elementary School
  • Memorial Spaulding Elementary School
  • Bigelow Middle School
  • Newton South High School

Whole Kids Foundation School Garden Grant

October 15 – Application deadline for Whole Kids Foundation School Garden Grant. This $2,000 grant supports edible educational gardens on school grounds.

A few Newton schools have successfully applied for this grant, including Underwood  (pictured above) and Pierce


About the Program

“At Whole Kids Foundation, we know that the more kids know and feel connected to their food, the more curious they become about how things grow or taste, and the more willing they are to try new foods. This is why we believe in edible garden learning spaces!”

The Garden Grant program provides a $2,000 monetary grant to support a new or existing edible educational garden at either a:

  • K–12 School
  • 501(c)(3) Non-profit working in partnership with a K–12 school
  • 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

More information here.

Green Team: How to register a MassDEP Green Team

Schools in Massachussets may register their Green Team with MassDEP. At School Connections, we encourage the registration.

THE GREEN TEAM is an environmental club for Massachusetts students sponsored by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs and Department of Environmental Protection. The goal of the interactive educational program  is to “empower students and teachers to help the environment through waste reduction, recycling, composting, energy conservation and pollution prevention.” 


Why register your Green Team?

  1. GREEN TEAM participants receive educational tools, such as a classroom poster, lesson plans, recycling tips and suggested activities. 
  2. Registered schools may request free equipment, such as:
      1. Recycling bins, wheeled carts, compost bins, and worms for worm bins.
      2. Idling Reduction Signs and Materials
  3. If awarded with a MassDEP School Recycling Grant Newton applied for in June 2019, all schools will have to have a registered team. 
  4. Green Teams maybe eligible to receive recognitions and prizes.
  5. GREEN TEAM lessons and activities align with the Massachusetts Department of Education curriculum frameworks for Math, ELA, and  Science and Technology.
  6. It also promotes Food Waste Reduction at Schools

How to register?

  1. Submit your completed GREEN TEAM registration form by fax, mail or on-line. (Download brochure)
  2. A GREEN TEAM kit will be mailed to you. The kit contains a program guide, poster, GREEN TEAM achievement stickers, lesson plans and other resources.
  3. Please, let School Connections know you have registered! Thank you. 


In 2018-2019, the following Newton Schools were registered:  Zervas , Mason Rice, Underwood, Peirce and Newton North.  Please note that membership needs to be renewed annually.

Our Neighbors: High school seniors produce documentary ‘Under Pressure’

Original post from Models of Excellence | EL Education –  

The documentary Under Pressure was created by the 2019 senior class from Four Rivers Charter School in Greenfield, MA and covers the September 2018  Merrimack Valley Columbia gas explosions and the natural gas industry in Massachusetts and nationally. The documentary film explores the complex truth of natural gas as an energy source as well as the struggles of local families and small businesses as they attempt to rebuild their lives after a disaster. The expedition spanned all four core classes and lasted from September to the film’s premiere at the Greenfield Garden Cinema in February 2019.


We asked the teacher

What was compelling for your students about this?
The most compelling aspects of this expedition were that the students themselves chose the topic of the film and that they were ultimately responsible for the quality of a film that they would show to a full theater here in Greenfield then distribute far and wide via the internet. They put their names and the name of the school on this product and many of them decided that they were not going to accept anything below what they thought was their best work.

What were the challenges?
Having 30 people make one movie was the biggest challenge. This was the most intense group work experience many of them had ever done. It’s not easy to have a conversation with your colleague about a difference in opinion about what’s best for the project or to point out when you don’t think they are doing their share, especially when you’re 17 years old. We build learning targets into our lessons to help address these challenges and see them as part of the learning but recognize that it’s still tough.

What makes this particular piece a model for other students?
Video is a medium that saturates our lives whether we like it or not. We are constantly bombarded by it but unless students take the time to learn what is behind these images and sounds they might not know how much effort it takes to produce a quality video of any length. This documentary shows other students what is possible with a small budget and equipment available at just about any community television station. There was so much thought and effort that went into our film, I can see future senior classes here at Four Rivers using this film as a model for everything from B-roll and archival footage use, to narration and script and storytelling.

What would be your advice to a teacher that is inspired by this project?
Give yourself plenty of time. The act of making a movie is a great motivating factor, and with a compelling story, the students will be engaged and driven to get the story out there. The hard part is getting the film done on time. A few years ago our movie finished exporting while folks were already in the theater, and since then we’ve gotten a little better each year about the timing, but it always takes more time than you think. To quote a professional filmmaker that our students work with, “finish the film. That’s the goal.”

Ask for a screening

Contact Cindy Mapes ([email protected]) from Mothers Out Front if your school or organization is interested in a screening the film, as the anniversary of the Merrimack Valley gas explosions is coming up.

In the news

Greenfield Recorder: High school seniors produce documentary ‘Under Pressure’
Consumers for Sensible Energy: