Interdisciplinary Education Using Carvey

By Felicity Moffett

The K-12 program at Eden Hall believes in the importance of interdisciplinary learning. This is why we are so excited to announce a new technology that we will be incorporating into our lesson plans. Inventable’s Carvey is a 3D carving tool that gives students hands-on experience with STEM technology. While the Carvey is capable of carving many materials we are planning on using wood. Wood acts as a sustainable option compared to plastic and gives students the satisfaction of being less wasteful while looking at the bigger picture of sustainability. We are currently incorporating Carvey into one of our garden lesson plans so that students have the opportunity to carve plant marking signs after deciding which plants they would like to add to our garden. Through Easle, a free online program, students can design their signs in advance, sign in on our computers, and then carve the signs using our machine. Both Carvey and Easle are easy to learn which make them the perfect introduction to 3D technology for students of any age. Our first print, a draft of what students will be doing, is shown below. Our staff is having fun using this technology and they are excited to share it with students!


Carvey in Action!


The finished product.



Sustainability Leadership Academy 2017

This August, 15 high school leaders came together for the second year of our Sustainability Leadership Academy residential, week-long program. This year, we were excited to have participants who traveled from as far as China to learn about careers in sustainability (we miss you, Steve)!

After a first evening of icebreakers and teambuilding games, we jumped right in on the first full day, starting the morning with a leadership studio with Chatham’s Career Development Office. The rest of the day was filled with tons of time in the fields and woodlands of the Eden Hall Campus – starting with an applied woodland ecology session with Professor Linda Johnson and ending with an epic group game of capture the flag.

Applied Ecology with Dr. Linda Johnson of the Falk School of Sustainability

Day 2 was full of green building tours! We started at the new Frick Environmental Center, where Maureen Olinzock, Sustainability Coordinator, and Taiji Nelson, Naturalist Educator, both with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, showed us around the Living Building’s features. We spent the afternoon at Phipps’ Center for Sustainable Landscapes and even met up with their high school interns in the SEED Classroom. We were pumped to end our day with our first night out in Pittsburgh at Kennywood theme park!

Kennywood Night!

Day 3 was food day! After a morning spent harvesting mushrooms, greens, zucchini and more with Tony on the Eden Hall Farm, we took the whole afternoon to learn how to cook from Chef Chris, who manages all the great food that comes out of the campus dining hall. We fileted and prepared our own fish with vegetables. It was a good challenge out of comfort zones for some, but well worth the taste! The day wound down with a game night – including corn hole, Frisbee, and board games like Exploding Kittens and Taboo too.

Cooking class with Chef Chris from Parkhurst Catering at the dining hall.

Day 4 was focused on social justice and planning. In the morning, we toured downtown Pittsburgh’s walk/bike infrastructure and public transit projects with Sean Luther and Phoebe Downey from Envision Downtown. The afternoon was spent in Homewood, where we toured the Sankofa Village Community Garden with Ayanna Jones and the Oasis Farm & Fishery with Casey Clauser. For most of us, seeing sustainability in action to drive social change on the neighborhood scale was the highlight of our week. That night, after some free time to play soccer and use the rock climbing wall on the Shadyside Campus, we had our second night out in Pittsburgh – an escape room! It was great teambuilding, even though neither team managed to escape in time.

With the garden interns at the Sankofa Village Community Garden in Homewood.

Our last full day started with a green building tour around downtown Pittsburgh by kayak with Isaac Smith and Mary Schrag from the Green Building Alliance. Everyone had been looking forward to this all week and we were so glad the weather held out! In the afternoon, we had a follow-up leadership studio and then wrapped up the program with outdoor pool time, a campfire and some group closing and bonding time.

Green building kayak tour of Downtown Pittsburgh with GBA.

All week, each young leader worked on their own project idea to implement in their home communities, starting as soon as they left this program. Projects range from getting local businesses to eliminate use of plastic bags to inventing new technologies and improving the effectiveness of their high school’s environmental club. We look forward to catching up with the whole group over the next 6 months or so as we conference call to check-in on project successes and stories.

Thanks to all the young leaders and to the community partners involved for a great week! We couldn’t put it better than some of the leaders themselves:

  • “I learned a lot more about sustainability than I knew before and also realized the connection between sustainability and social justice. I realized a possible interest in urban planning as well.”
  • “I enjoyed learning more about sustainability in Pittsburgh because even though I’ve lived here my whole life I had no idea how many green buildings are here.”
  • “This week I learned that working with the environment is what I want to do with my life for sure.”
  • “Thanks for a great and empowering week!”

Eden Hall Campus Hosts First Year of ‘Seeds of Change’ Project Conference for K-12 Students

On Tuesday, March 7th, 2017, the first annual K-12 sustainable student project conference, called “Seeds of Change: Igniting Student Action for Sustainable Communities,” was held at Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus. Over 100 students participated, representing 12 schools, 7 different school districts and ranging from 5th through 12th grade. The conference was planned as a collaboration between South Fayette School District, Fort Cherry School District and Chatham University. It was possible thanks to the generous support of Remake Learning, Opterra Energy, and Luma Institute.

The day started with an inspirational keynote from Michelle King, the Learning Instigator and an educator at Environmental Charter School. She implored everyone to remember that “We need each other,” to accomplish the difficult work of community transformation and sustainability. She challenged conference-attending students to talk to those from different schools, and those of different ages or of different races at the conference today. She asked “How might we listen and talk to each other?” Michelle also had students up out of their seats and practicing the skills of listening and talking with new faces with some fun warm up questions, including, “Would you rather live without the internet or without heating and air conditioning?”

After warming up their listening and questioning skills, students broke into three groups to share their work and get feedback from their attending peers during 3-minute presentations. Break-out groups for 2017 included “Energy, Water and Infrastructure,” “Food and Agriculture,” and “Aquaculture and Aquaponics.” Elementary students asked questions about high school student projects and vice-versa. Student presenters covered their material with practiced confidence and timeliness to fit into their short allotted presentation window. One student reflected afterwards, “It was fun to share our ideas with each other and just be able to talk about our ideas.” Others said, “I enjoyed listening to others’ ideas,” “I have lots of new ideas for my project,” and “I enjoyed being around new people and learning new things.” One educator in attendance reflected, “I enjoyed the casual yet authentic approach. It was nice to connect with other schools and be inspired by initiatives happening around the area.” Another teacher said, “Very exciting and encouraging to see the level of interest and enthusiasm that these students have. Great ideas and networking opportunities.”

After lunch, the day ended with campus tours and a team scavenger hunt for information on other projects. Those who completed the scavenger hunt were entered into a prize drawing for living wall planters, aquaponics kits and other cool prizes.

We applaud all of the below participants for their ongoing work and courage in sharing with their peers during this conference:

  • Brashear High School – “Our Future Neighborhood”
  • Environmental Charter School – “Stormwater”
  • Hampton High School – “Instillations”
  • Mt. Lebanon High School – “Cutting the Crust off of Energy Consumption: Living Sustainability Through Effective Energy Practices”
  • Manchester Academic Charter School – “Landscape Design”
  • South Fayette Middle School – (5 projects) “Solar Panel,” “Living Wall,” “Compost,” “Aquaponics,” and “Orchard and Outdoor Classroom”
  • Mt. Lebanon High School – “Sustainable Agriculture in Schools”
  • Avonworth High School – “Earth, Wind and Fire Sustainability PBL: Trout Harvesting”
  • Claysville Elementary School – “The Next Generation of Sustainable Agriculture”
  • Fort Cherry High School – “Maintaining Optimal Living for Tilapia in an Aquaponics System”
  • Fort Cherry Elementary Center and High School – “Ranger Vertical Garden”
  • Winchester Thurston School – “Aquatic Habitat Pond Improvement”

We can’t wait to host “Seeds of Change 2018” next year! We hope to see those who joined us this year back again to share progress and look forward to having new teams involved as well. If you are interested in participating, please contact Eden Hall’s K-12 office at (412)365-2416 or stay tuned for the 2018 conference information to be announced in late summer/early fall 2017.

Michelle King addresses all students at the conference during her morning keynote.


Students from Brashear High School present their project for a community-integrated technology center in Beechview.


Environmental Charter School students present their project, in which they are making design changes to their schoolyard to improve stormwater flow.


Students from Claysville Elementary School present their aquaponics project as Roy Weitzell, Eden Hall’s Aquaculture Lab Director, provides feedback.


Students from South Fayette Middle School present their composting project.


Students from Manchester Academic Charter School present their landscape design project.

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