By Sara Teaster, LEED AP BD+C, Sustainability Manager
On Wednesday September 23rd, VMDO staff traveled to the newly opened Discovery Elementary School in Arlington, VA to participate in the annual Green Apple Day of Service, sponsored by the USGBC’s Center for Green Schools.
The school’s entry canopy features an oculus that measures the movement of the sun –creating an opportunity for a solar calendar in the front plaza. Hours 9, 12, and 3 were measured during the Summer Solstice this past summer, and during the Autumnal Equinox, each hour from 9-5, and the 3:41 closing bell time were marked with a temporary stone marker.
The front plaza will eventually be paved and the hour markers will be replaced with carved stones so that next year, or 10 years from now, students will be able to come back on the equinox and find the sun in the same spot.
Each hour, teachers brought their classes to the front plaza, where the VMDO team described the sun’s special relationship to the earth and how the sun spot created by the oculus could be used to tell the time and the time-of-year.
Helping to create spaces that teach and encourage connection with the natural world is what make the Green Apple Day of Service so special. As the students were picked up at the end of the day, overhearing them explain to their parents how a solar calendar works brought smiles to our faces.