Innovation and Sustainability
We believe students thrive when they have the chance to tackle real-world problems and come up with real solutions.
Design thinking and innovation are deeply infused into our International Baccalaureate program, and “inquiry-based learning” is not just a buzzword at Mackintosh.
Our environmental and sustainability initiatives provide an example of student learning and problem-solving, with real impact: On a snowy day in May 2015, six seventh grade students at Mackintosh Academy flipped the switch to turn on solar panels on all three campus buildings. The year before, as part of their International Baccalaureate Exhibition project, these same students pressed the send button to submit their application for a $96,000 grant from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board to bring solar power to our school. And they won!
We all won. And the rewards keep coming. Our “solar students” won the President’s Environmental Youth Award in 2016. In 2018, we were named a U. S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School and a Colorado Environmental Leadership Gold Leader Award, in honor of the ongoing environmental and sustainability work that the solar project sparked.
Installing solar panels brought monetary savings and a reduction in carbon footprint to Mack Littleton, but, more importantly, it lit the way to a focus on sustainability and innovation. Following our students’ lead and passion, we strive every day to be a wise, compassionate, collaborative, innovative, diverse, and sustainable center for teaching and learning.
~ Mack Alum
Our Environmental Policy provides the foundation for our sustainability initiatives, which have included:
Reducing Environmental Impact and Costs
- Student-driven initiatives: Installation of solar panels on all campus buildings, reusable plates for lunch, meetings, and events, terracing erosion control project, gardening and greenhouse
- School and family participation: Single stream and glass recycling programs
- Solar-powered outdoor fountain
- Energy-efficient windows, insulation, solar tubes, venting skylight, motion-activated LED lighting
- Parent Council-driven initiative: Water bottle filling station in gym
- School supply recycling program
- Use of natural cleaning products
Improving Health and Wellness
- Minimizing exposure to harmful chemicals and products
- Physical education, outside lunch and recess for all students, every day
- Movement and mindfulness sessions in middle school
- Contract with Children’s Hospital to provide health/safety training and oversight
- Relationship with Littleton Police Department to overview safety practices and procedures
Providing Effective Environmental and Sustainability Education
- International Baccalaureate curriculum units: How We Share the Planet
- Solar inquiry to analyze data from solar panel monitoring system
- All-school Conserve Energy days
- Active greenhouse and planting projects
- Environmental speakers in class and schoolwide assemblies
- Green Team of teachers to promote environmental activities and focus
- Ongoing community service and environmental action, on and off campus
- Annual middle school participation in the World Affairs Challenge
Environmental and Innovation-Related Awards and Recognitions
- Climate Action Project School of Excellence 2021
- National Wildlife Federation Certified Schoolyard Habitat 2019
- U. S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Award 2018
- Colorado Environmental Leadership Program Gold Leader since 2018, Silver Achiever 2017, Bronze Member 2016
- Groove Auto Technology Grant 2017
- Colorado Garden Foundation Grant 2017
- President’s Environmental Youth Award 2016
- Featured in 5280 Magazine and Colorado Public Radio
- State Farm Youth Advisory Board Grant 2014 (funding solar panels, making us the first fully solar-powered school in Littleton)
Our Innovation and Sustainability Initiatives in the News
Mackintosh Middle Schoolers Advocate for Platte River Health, Littleton Independent, June 5, 2023
Mackintosh Academy is Certified Schoolyard Habitat by National Wildlife Federation, Denver Post YourHub, January 27, 2020.
Mackintosh Academy Snags Environmental Award, Littleton Independent, June 4, 2018.
Colorado Students Tackle Global Problems, Denver Post, March 8, 2018.
Greenhouse Supports Learning at Mackintosh, Littleton Independent, January 16, 2017.
The State of Education in Colorado, 5280 Magazine, November 2016.
In Littleton, Ambitious Students Turn School into “Smart Village,” Colorado Public Radio, June 2, 2016.