IRVING — For students at Lady Bird Johnson Middle School in Irving, going to class is like walking into a giant science experiment.
Their school is "net zero," meaning it creates as much energy as it uses — if not more.
But how does all of that work? Kids are learning day-by-day in a school displaying each piece of its environmental puzzle.
The building features 64,000 square feet of solar panels, 12 wind turbines and the first 100 percent recyclable kitchen in Texas.
"Everything they put in the trash will go into the pulpler — the plates, the food, the silverware," explained Principal Angie Gaylord. "The silverware is made of plant oils, so it's all eco-friendly green."
Garylord says her all-green school is fueling education. "If I can create a learning environment where learning is like gasoline, it just blows up," she said. "These kids are going to move on and do things that change the world."
The school is considered a learning laboratory. Flat-screen displays show students how much energy is being generated and how much is being used. Young people are clearly charged up by the technology.
"I'm like so happy to be here," said Sara Newman. "If I move, I will be so sad!"
Classmate Cynthia Miles doesn't like science, but she says learning like this makes the difference. "It will probably help me understand it more, instead of just looking through a book," she said.
"If you make it relevant and connect it to them, and put them in live, living labs, then it automatically just stimulates their motivation to learn it," Principal Gaylord said.
The school cost $25 million in bond money plus another $4 million for extra renewable energy details. The district hopes to make that cost back in 10 to 12 years.