Dr. Susan Spencer of ROCSPOT returns

One of our former Commons speakers, solar scientist Dr. Susan Spencer of ROCSPOT, returned to campus on Tuesday, Feb. 9, to make new and deeper connections. In an effort to continue to forge meaningful and mutually-beneficial community connections, we asked Dr. Spencer to plug in again to share her expertise.

Dr. Spencer started the day meeting with Commons Co-Director, Seth O’Bryan, to brainstorm possible professional development and community-engagement activities for Harley, as well as for the broader circle of Rochester educators. It is interesting to note that a recent research study published in Science showed that schools are not doing a good job of educating students on climate change and are often sending mixed messages about it. The study was not designed to single out public school teachers, but rather to demonstrate how much professional development and teacher support are still needed. The Commons and the work our faculty and students pursue in this area can be valuable resources for teachers in the Rochester area and beyond.

As this is a new trimester from when Dr. Spencer visited before, she met with the new Living Building class, explained her thesis and research on solar panels and materials, then explored possible empirical studies the students could undertake related to the solar chimneys. From there, she met with the Third Grade for the first time and learned about their solar off-the-grid project. Her work with ROCSPOT also incorporates the idea of creating micro-grids of sustainable energy to eliminate community reliance on fossil-fuel powered energy grids. She toured the Centrum with the solar-powered chandeliers and was both impressed and excited about the work our third graders are undertaking.

Finally, Dr. Spencer grabbed a few moments with Middle School science teachers, Anneke Nordmark and Carli Rivers, to brainstorm possible collaborative projects for the future. All in all, the three short hours Dr. Spencer spent on campus yielded much momentum and validation for our ongoing science and sustainability projects. We look forward to having her back again during 3rd trimester.

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