Oakland Tech EarthTeam

This is our very first post. In the 2016-2017 school year, Oakland Tech student interns will participate in an after school service-learning project to reduce contamination in the waste streams in their school & communities. This blog will serve as a platform for interns to share their work.



Waste Management Career Day At Tech!











To end January, Oakland Tech interns joined with the AP Environmental Science Classes for a Waste Management Career day on-campus Field Trip. Interns learned about the history of Waste Management, how it operates, the many job positions and sectors throughout the organization, and opportunities for them to get involved!

Here is what our interns had to say about the day!

What did you learn today that brought you satisfaction? 

“I learned that Oakland really cares about its pollution and waste to the extent that Waste Management has clean trucks” – Ryoji

“Learning about advances we have made in technology and awareness of this issue” – Angela

“I am excited to learn that I could be an educational person on the Waste Management team” – CoCo

“Knowing that Waste Management gives opportunities for the future for its employees gave me satisfaction. It’s good to know that the jobs there aren’t just dead-ends but they have a future” – Yan Yan

“The speakers were effective and lively” – Raymond

“Learning that other people are also focused on helping the Earth and the 3-Bin system was the most satisfactory because knowing  we aren’t the only people concerned about this and that there is a whole corporation focused on it is great” – Daisy

What info would you share with a friends and family? 

“I would share the knowledge that there are individuals all around our community that are helping us.” -Lucy

“I would tell a friend about the internships and how it will benefit us in the long run to be a part of such a big organization” – Suzanne

“I would tell them how you can come from many things from computers to accounting and still be successful in Waste Management.” – Kamilah

“I would tell a friend how much a truck cost (300k). In addition, I would share how much energy is being created from our trash” – Jose

How has today’s presentations influenced your perspective on jobs in waste related fields? 

“I would be included to go into a Waste Management field or job after watching these presentations” – Ruby

“I did not know that waste related fields had so many opportunities for possible careers. I was interested in the consulting job. ” – Sophia

“It gave me insight on how it works on the inside. I always thought is was just people picking up trash but its actually thousands of jobs” – Petteri

“I never knew people who worked for Waste Management were so inspiring, they actually love their job. My entire perspective on the waste industry has changed” – Suzanne

“Jobs are really diverse / varied and you can work your way up” – Jade

How can we use the information we learned today to help benefit our project at Tech? 

“Basically everyone knows about global warming but they don’t know specifically how they contribute to it. Maybe we should teach more about the importance of composting.”

“We can use this information to further motivate people to join the movement and show all the progress to encourage people further” – Jarry

“If Waste Management can be successful with all of Alameda County’s trash than we can do it at Tech” – CoCo

“We can have reference and use methods from what they said and try to use it for what we do” – Asha

“It gave us more connections to people who can help us promote our project” – Ro’e

Thank you to Waste Management, OUSD, and Tech for make this event happen! 




The Power of Community! Over 5,000 Pieces of Litter Collected on MLK Shoreline!


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On MLK Day, Oakland Tech interns joined over 60 community members in a clean up of the Shoreline. Save the Bay started the day with some education on stormwater run-off, effects of litter on wildlife, a lot more that gave great context for why we were there in the first place.

Interns worked with the community by collected the data of the litter that was being picked up. Their was a wide range of people, and interns enjoyed being able to interact with so many individuals that care about a cause that they have been working so hard on.

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Data displayed from the MLK Clean Up

Over 5,000 pieces of litter was collected in a span of about 2 hours. The shoreline went from being COVERED in trash to being a spotless stretch of beautiful habitat for critters.

Here is what our interns had to say about the day.. 

Raymond helps a young volunteer safely flag off an area of glass

“It was unfortunate that we were unable to pick up the bigger pieces of trash further in the bay because of the tide levels. However, I was really happy to see that even kids (just in elementary school) are involved with beautifying nature now.” – Raymond

“I feel that today we made a lot of progress in cleaning the bay. However, I feel we could have used methods like using nets to get trash that was further out. Also I think it’s smart that a lot of people where here because when we go around the bay cleaning trash we miss some trash but then other groups go around and pick it up. Also, when I was walking back through the trails it felt really good to see the ground with no trash, like it felt like we made a real difference.” – Tyea

“There was way more trash then i thought there would be and it was cool to see little kids be involved in making a change and a difference in our environment and they thought it was fun so it’s good to know that they may share that with others and things like that” – Asha

“it was a really cool experience and it helped me realize a lot of things, however i got fluids on me from the bag which was very unpleasant” – Jade

“It was really eye opening to see how much trash there was everywhere and how much litter was everywhere. There’s so much that could hurt wildlife. It was also fun to interact with the kids and talk to them.” – Ruby

“This morning started out really cold, but as it progressed I got warmer. Moreover, the time went by faster and faster the more we got into the work, because we picked up so much trash and covered a lot of ground.” – Kamilah
“I think that in the beginning is was hard to collect data because of the little kids that kept on not calling out the trash. After I moved groups, it became easier because the people were really good at calling out stuff and keeping me informed.” – Jose
Ro’e collecting data for his group of young volunteers

“It was fun to spend time with nice people from the community. The amount of trash was sad but the amount of people who showed up to help was uplifting” – Ro’e

“I think it was fun to pick up trash and record it with other people outside of school. Sometimes it was challenging to get some trash and clothes. My legs are cold and wet which sucks but the whole experience was a lot of fun. Ready to do it again.” -Petteri

Daisy with handfuls of litter

“In the beginning I was really sleepy and it was cold but after we started walking and really got into it, it was really nice. It was cool to be outside and I had a good time overall. My group was really nice and we found a lot of surprising stuff. We laughed and joked around a lot and I had a good time.” – Daisy

“MLK day was fun but it felt like the people picking up trash were doing a lot more to help even if that wasn’t the case” -Ryoji

“I thought today was very effective. My group member and I worked really well together. There was good communication during the day which allowed us to track and pick up a lot of trash. I was surprised with what we found. There was a lot of styrofoam which I did not think was used that often. One thing that I struggled with was trying to characterize some of the items we found. Overall, it was good day and I think we made a lot of progress. 😊 ” – Sophia

“I liked hearing about others talk about their opinions on how we can improve our habits. One of the people we talked to talked about her honeymoon where she and her husband were walking down the beach and she’d just pick up trash and she could tell that it came from a variety of different places. It was bizarre to imagine that a pile of trash can actually come from a number of different places” -Angela

“Throughout today’s event, I spent most of my time with two specific people and Angela. I had many flashbacks of when I had attended this event last year, and had clearly remember most of the event that happened. While we were picking up trash and recording our data, they shared many stories with us on the topic of trash and litter in the ocean. I think it was a nice day to come out to volunteer, but it would’ve been nicer without the cold weather.” – Suzanne

“I feel like today was really inspiring, the group I was with picked up almost 550 pieces of trash. I really liked how everyone was able to work together and everyone had a friendly attitude, I think it really helped us get the job done. I like how dedicated people were and I loved seeing that so many people genuinely wanted to help out on MLK day. I think it really shows that even though we aren’t where he would have wanted us to be as a country, there are still people who care.” – Lucy

” I loved the woman I worked with, they were so positive and sweet. One woman went into the water with her shoes on! Impressive. ” – CoCo
Thanks for reading! If you want to learn more about our data collection, check it out for yourself HERE ! Thank you Save the Bay !

Interns Make a Game Plan for the Semester!

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To kick off the semester interns created a backwards planning logic model. As a team, interns discussed objectives for the remainder of the year, and what activities and resources were needed in order to achieve them. Students directed the conversation with volunteers facilitating the group and transcribing everyones ideas and thoughts on to the white board.

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Through group discussion, 3 main objectives were set.

  1. Increase environmental literacy at Emerson Elementary and expand the 3-Bin system to their campus 
  2. Institutionalize the 3-Bin system at Oakland Tech High 
  3. Create a professional replication package with resources to share with other schools so they can implement a 3-Bin system too. 

It was a very productive meeting and the group caught on to this type of strategic planning quickly! Our team is feeling ready for what is to come!

Thanks for reading! 


An Intern’s Final Meeting Thoughts!

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Student Blog, Written By: Daisy, Oakland Tech Intern

I felt great to complete an entire semester of Earth Team. I thought that time passed by quickly and when I had the interview, the questions made me realize how I had started this internship months ago, how much I’d learned and how quickly time had passed by.

One of my favorite experiences was when we went to Diamond Park and helped around with gardening. I liked it because we were able to be outside near nature and we were doing something together as a team. This outing allowed me to get to know the other interns since we went right after the internship had started and I didn’t know anybody yet. Another one of my favorite experiences was the Brower Awards. I enjoyed going to this event because of all that I had gained from this night. Seeing all those people was truly inspiring and not the kind of inspiration I feel when I watch superhero movies on television. The stories they were telling were real, they had no scripts and they weren’t reading lines when they made the videos that were showed. Usually everything is on television and it was great to hear what youth has done first hand, hearing their voices not a recording of the speeches they gave through a screen. A lot of people probably saw the videos they made but having them stand in front of you was a different experience I was happy to live. I couldn’t believe everything they had done at such a young age and how they were only standing a few feet away.  In addition to all the achievements displayed in this night, there were also a lot of presentations given before the awards ceremony started. Through the presentations people gave, I learned about issues I didn’t even know existed and I now have stickers on my water bottle reminding me of them everyday.

It felt good to have a One on One interview. It was nice to know that my thoughts mattered and that I was really being heard. I liked how there was actually time being taken into the schedule for me to talk about my feelings and thoughts on what we have been doing. The questions contributed to how good I felt because they were directed towards me individually. They weren’t broad so they made me really think about specific experiences I had. The environment of the interview also helped me feel calm and relaxed. For me, normally interviews are formal and I get nervous. I usually forget everything and when I’m asked a question, my mind is blank and I can’t think of anything. For this interview being outside and close to everyone made me feel like it was just a talk and there was no reason for me to feel nervous. Instead of my mind going blank, it was full of all the memories and things we had done in this past semester. All I had to do was pick the best experiences I had.

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I really enjoyed the meeting at Diamond Park. It was fun being outside and playing games with the other interns. I learned a new game called Spike Ball and the best part was how we talked more than we played. It was also a nice change to being outside since I’m normally in a room the majority of the day in school. Besides the place and games I also really liked the cheese and crackers we ate.


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Daisy, Oakland Tech Intern

Thanks for reading! 



Gaining skills as an Earth Team Intern.

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The 3-Bin system project is important to our program, but youth development is even bigger! Check out what our interns have learned so far throughout their first semester!

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“I have learned how to be able to talk to people about an issue I care about and try to make them care” – Yan Yan 

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“I feel like I have gained the ability to fight for the beliefs & goals that I have. I have gained the confidence to talk in front of students and with staff. Also, I think I have gained more knowledge about what it takes to accomplish any goals – not just environmental.” – Lucy 

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“I have learned how to be diplomatic with people who have different goals than me, and I have learned how much of an impact an individual can make I’m a community” -Ro’e

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“I feel like my presentation skills have improved a lot. I also feel more comfortable sharing my ideas with other people regardless of whether I think its good or not.” -Angela 

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“Being a part of Earth Team has helped me become more confident in sorting trash, and helping others sort correctly as well. I was able to connect to other students and build new relationships with other people. Earth Team influences me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things.” – Suzanne 

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“I think that I learn how to work together with a team that have different opinions from me” – Jose 

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“I learned how to communicate with people who are older and have more power” – Tyea

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“I feel like I have gained leadership skills because I talked to one of the custodians about this and I felt like I was able to be more confident in the system when I talked to him and it made me feel like a leader and a representative of the system.” – Daisy 

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“I feel like I have become more confident with my knowledge of the environment. I feel like I have improved my teamwork and collaborative skills.” -Sophia 

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“I’ve learned how to separate everything and how to teach others how they can too. it’s made me more positive because I like being able to help” -Asha

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“I have gained more confidence in the program, and learned problem solving skills and the importance of teamwork.” – Jade 

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“I feel as if I’ve gained a better understanding of trash systems, and leadership skills.” – Ruby

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“I have become better at analyzing data and how to think about how an audience is thinking.” -Kamilah

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“I have learned how to talk to adults that may be difficult” -CoCo 

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“I have learned how to talk to people about issues that they might not want to talk about” -Ryoji 

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“I have learned more leadership and communication skills” – Raymond 




Thinking ahead, Oakland Tech Teams discuss next steps!

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Time moves fast when you are working hard! Before saying our goodbyes Oakland Tech Earth Team interns reflected on the year and discussed some next steps for continued progress on the 3-Bin System. Here is what a few had to say!

What progress have we made thus far? 

  • “Getting teachers to bring the bins during school to get down the contamination rate” – Petteri
  • “Continued to educate students and teachers and do waste audits to see how well the system is working” -CoCo
  • “We’ve created a new educational video based on the mistakes from last year. We have new insight on common misconceptions made by students and slogans that work.” -Kamilah
  • “We have talked to teachers to make encourage them and make sure they are following the 3-bin system. We were able to reduce the landfill contamination by a lot which means kids are actually trying to sort.” – Daisy
  • “We have worked together with teachers to correctly dispose of the trash. We audited the trash to measure the contamination of the waste at Tech.” – Jose

What additional work is needed for continued progress? 

  • “I feel that in order to continue our progress, we need to continue to provide education for both students and staff. We can do this through presentations, pamphlets, or the video that we have created. I also feel that we should continue to talk with all of the staff at the school (teachers, custodians, admin) to make sure every individual is doing their part.” -Lucy
  • “Now that we’ve collected our data, we need to figure out what to do with it, including which classes we need to educate.” -Ryoji
  • “I think we need to go into classrooms and educate students further because sorting into the 3 bin system can be confusing.” -Sophia
  • “I think we need to keep educating kids on how to sort because I think they are trying but they don’t know how to. We can show them the video we were working on or give a survey to teachers and ask students to take so we know if they know how to sort.” – Daisy
  • “The work we need to do next is really communicating with the janitors about confusion on disposing of the bins” – Tyea

What resources or skills are needed to complete that work? 

  • “In order to accomplish the work, we will need to have public speaking skills when talking to students and professional speaking skills when talking to teachers.” – Lucy
  • “We need to have more teachers and administrators working with us” – Ro’e
  • “We need assistance from the teachers and cooperation from students.” – Ruby
  • “We need time to plan our presentations. We need to do more meetings where we focus on what would be the best plan of action.” -Sophia
  • “We need patience and communication” – Tyea
  • “Time and a survey to see what concept we need to focus on” – Jose
  • “Our video is now completed, and would be perfect if we were able to have it shown in classes, and with teachers who want further education, we are able to take some of our class time out and come into classrooms.” – Suzanne

“Maybe on days like earth day we can have an assembly or a lunch time activity we can do in the front of the school to get student more involved and get hands on experience with how to use the system correctly if they don’t already” – Angela


We are proud to have made it this far, but we know there is a lot that lays ahead. Our team is looking forward to working together, with all of our different strengths, to continue to make Oakland Tech a leader in on campus sustainability!


Joining as an Oakland Tech Earth Team Volunteer!

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*Student Blog* Written By: Jarry, Tech Volunteer Intern

I decided to join Earth Team to expose myself to different ways I could locally help my community. I believe that modern society takes what we have in abundance, for granted, such as the water and air around us. Knowing that these natural resources can and are being degraded, I wanted to contribute in my community in doing our part in living sustainably. Joining Earth Team late, I had no prior knowledge of what to expect that the meetings are generally about two hours. I expected the meetings to be boring, but after joining I can say that the community of Earth Team members made the meetings and my overall experience to be fun and memorable.

I didn’t know that Earth Team has been happening at my school for over year, and I was disappointed that I had not joined earlier, but I am glad that I was able to join in the end. Continuing my time with Earth Team, I am looking forward to gaining community service hours through meaningful work that would be helping my community locally to live sustainable and to learn more things I can do personally to help save the environment!

Thanks for reading! 


Contamination Audit Data gets interns thinking!

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Student Written By: Ruby, OT Intern 

“On December 6, 2017 we did our second contamination audit of the year. This one was at the lower campus instead at the upper campus like the other one was. We started off by splitting up into teams, and then splitting up all the brute stations on campus. My team of four split up and me and my partner grabbed our bin bags from the brute stations. The custodian had already grabbed the recycling, though, so we didn’t manage to snag that bag this time, and went back to the sorting area, compost bag in hand.

After waiting around for everyone and their bags to get there, we spread out some tarps and set out our bags, and began to sort them. We went bag by bag in 3 sections that correlated to the 3 bins. My team was compost, which while being the smallest, is also one of the nastiest, as it often has moldy food and wet things. We went through and put the compost in a smaller compost bin, the trash in a landfill bin, and the recycling in the recycling bin. We compared the weights of the recycling and trash against the total bin to see what percent the compost bin was contaminated.

Most of the data was similar to last time, except that the compost was a little bit more contaminated and the trash was surprisingly a lot less contaminated.”

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Pie Chart showing contamination of Landfill Bin in Percentage by Weight (lbs)
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Written by: Ruby, OT Intern

In the beginning before the 3-Bin System was implemented, audit data showed that the landfill bin was 91% contaminated. Every audit post implementation has shown Landfill contamination around 40%. Usually, the landfill is not something we worry about too often, since it is recommended that if “you don’t know where the trash goes” to put it in the bin that contamination will cause the least effect (the landfill bin). Seeing the number drop to 16% was not something our team was expecting.

We hypothesis that this might mean that our Teacher Campaign may actually have been effective, given that more bins were available to audit after they were properly brought to the station points. The increase in contamination of the recycling bin, and major decrease in the contamination of the landfill bin leaves us thinking that more people are trying to participate in the system, but may just not fully know how.

We look forward to more audits throughout the year to better understand the waste system at Tech and what we can do to make improvements!



Oakland Tech Interns conduct their Teacher Outreach Campaign!

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Over the course of couple weeks in November, Earth Team interns spent time before, after class time to meet with over 110+ staff and faculty one on one about the 3-Bin System and Teachers important roles and responsibilities.

A lot of prep went into these meetings, and interns were a bit nervous to deliver such important information to their own authoritative figures, especially one on one. Interns spent the following meeting reflecting on the experience, how successful it was, how it challenged them, and what still needs to be done.

Overall, interns were challenged by the pressure of talking to adults and the feeling like some teachers did not give them their full focus or respect when having conversations. After diving a bit deeper, the team discussed that this feeling mostly came from those that had to talk to teachers they didn’t know or have never had before. Although most conversations went very well, some Teachers stood out over the others in their lack of support or interest in hearing interns talk about this important project.

Each intern was in charge of about 8-10 Teachers, so of course, through trial and error students were able to improve and create new strategies to approach the conversations. Some students gave up the script so that they could speak from the heart, others changed some of the word choices, and others tried hard to give lots of suggestions to help Teachers understand that we are here to support them.

Interns were asked what surprised them about the meetings. A lot of interns expressed that they were taken back about how many Teachers were in support, and friendly to them during the one on ones. Others expressed that they weren’t expecting the conversations to be so short, but Teachers really didn’t give much time to talk.

“We were surprised by the enthusiasm and agreeability from the teachers, along with the limited time frame that the meetings took up.” OT Intern 

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Pledge of Commitment created by Oakland Tech Interns. Teachers signed commitment and were encouraged to hang it up in their classroom to show their support.

Overall, interns thought that the one on ones were effective, and almost all Teachers willingly signed the “Pledge of Commitment” to start dumping bins at the end of the school day. The team definitely recognizes that there is more work to done, and some Teachers are going to take a lot more conversations before they are in support of this important project.

Keep going strong Oakland Tech Earth Team!