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Dane County Office of Energy and Climate change


5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th


Science, Social Studies, English Language Arts

Resource Type

  • Article

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States, USA - Midwest, Wisconsin

The Path Forward - Forest Edge Elementary School Update

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  • This article provides information about an elementary school that is the largest net-zero energy school in Wisconsin.
  • Students will learn about the importance of sustainability in relation to climate change and the steps taken to include the local community in decision-making. 
  • The benefit of becoming energy efficient is often mentioned as a valuable topic for students to learn.
Teaching Tips


  • The information will work well as either a whole-class read-aloud or as an individual assignment.
  • Themes of sustainability and community support are found throughout the article, which can be starting points for units about those topics.
  • With one click, this article can be translated into many languages.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teachers of younger students may wish to provide a definition list to support comprehension.
  • Students should have a basic understanding of the phrase "net-zero energy school" before reading. 
  • Teachers and/or students will need internet access to read the article, unless the teacher wishes to print it.


  • Connections can be made in math classes due to numerical data being mentioned. 
  • Since the article is fairly short, it can become the basis for an excellent substitute lesson plan.
  • Consider having students conduct research about energy efficient projects on a local level.
  • Students in social studies classes can utilize the information to construct an infographic that explains how a community worked together to help the planet.
Scientist Notes
This article resource features an elementary school built with sustainability in mind and is recommended for teaching.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.1.6-8 Distinguish the powers and responsibilities of citizens, political parties, interest groups, and the media in a variety of governmental and nongovernmental contexts.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Foundational Skills (K-5)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.5.4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.1 Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.5 Analyze how a particular sentence, paragraph, chapter, or section fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the ideas.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.8.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.1 Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 5-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-1 Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
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