Environmentally Sound, Sensibly Sustainable

The light bulb has long been the symbol for bright ideas, but now thanks to an effort by a Ball State professor, it’s also a symbol for how discussions about technology and environmentally sustainable practices go hand in hand. 

Mary Annette Rose, associate professor of technology, is integrating environmentally friendly practices into the advanced technology curriculum at Ball State University. In so doing, she is simultaneously enhancing the environmental and technological literacy of seventh through 12th grade technology teachers and their students in schools nationwide.

 Mary Annette Rose, associate professor of technology.
Rose calls the initiative EnviroTech, and after the initiative received grant funding from the Environmental Protection Agency, the project successfully integrated sustainability education in 21 public schools across the country, including three in Indiana.

EnviroTech merges the notion of building environmental literacy with technological literacy,” Rose says. “Because we’re preparing the professionals of the future, it’s important that we integrate these sustainability principles into our curriculum.”

Teacher-participants implemented improved technological literacy gained from five interactive web-based EnviroTech classes in their technology classrooms, impacting more than 420 students.

As its teaching mechanism, the interactive webinar series focused on comparing the advantages and disadvantages of replacing common incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. The webinar allowed teachers to collaborate with one another and learn from environmental experts before implementing environmental literacy into their technology classes. During the last part of the series, teachers planned and facilitated guided-inquiry experiences for students, such as experiments in the power consumption of light bulbs, and field-based experiences, such as visiting a waste recycling center to learn about disposal practices in their communities.

Rose has plans for EnviroTech II, but in the meantime, she is working on a number of ventures to encourage environmental literacy and awareness on and off campus. She serves on Ball State’s Council on the Environment, as well as the Sustainability Curriculum Initiative, helping to shape Ball State’s new sustainability minor, available for the first time this year.

A natural fit for Rose is her involvement with Muncie’s annual Living Lightly Fair, a community event that has been growing for half a decade. Like EnviroTech, the fair promotes sustainability practices for daily living.

“The Living Lightly Fair is aimed at a broad audience, but most of all, we hope to attract individuals who haven’t done much, or perhaps not even thought much, about their daily use of energy, water, food, manufactured goods, and other resources,” said Barbara Stedman, director of national and international scholarships and Honors Fellow and a founder of the fair. “We try to give fair-goers the chance to pick up very practical tips and tools that they can then apply to their daily lives.”

Rose encourages everyone to visit the fair and to volunteer to be a part of it. “We welcome the participation of the entire Ball State community,” she said. “There are so many opportunities to volunteer and to share how to become more responsible stewards of the resources we have.”

Minnetrista, a Muncie museum and cultural center, has cosponsored and provided a venue for the fair since 2008. Rose is excited about another partnership, this one between Living Lightly, White River Cleanup, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and Muncie Delaware Clean and Beautiful. These interrelated projects and organizations converged to endorse water cleanup and conservation as the thematic undercurrent for this year’s fair, which shared a date with the annual White River Cleanup.

Annette Rose’s work with EnviroTech and the Living Lightly Fair has the potential for making a sustainable difference for the better in the lives of her students, their students, and her community.