M Stories

M Stories:  Nick Simon's Bright Idea


There is an old saying that, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.  Munich International School has a complicated relationship with trash.  We compost it.  We recycle it.  We analyze it.  We reduce it.  We do everything we can to not throw it away.  These sustainable and eco-friendly options take far more effort and thought than just throwing away trash.  This same dynamic applies to MIS's current building project, the Learning NeXus (an innovative co-working space at the heart of our campus designed to facilitate transdisciplinary learning).  MIS is refurbishing the "Old Gym" and turning it into the Learning NeXus. Refurbishing a building is actually more costly than tearing down an old structure, dumping all the construction waste, and building from scratch.

The "Old Gym" was built in 1982. MIS's COO Roman Friemel explains that "the projected life span of the gym was 20 years. By converting the gym's original structure into the Learning NeXus, we’ve been able to extend the lifecycle of the old gym by approximately 50 years. MIS makes a concerted effort to preserve what can be preserved even if it’s not the most aesthetic choice or the least complicated."  

8th-grader Nick Simon was exposed to the reality of sustainable construction practices during a tour of the Learning NeXus construction site. Nick learned from Mr. Friemel that one of the challenges the School has encountered is what to do with 100 ceiling lamps from the Old Gym that will not be reused since the Learning NeXus will get most of its light from the sunroof cutouts.  Mr. Friemel explains that "the lights are a liability if we were even to sell them because the wiring would first need to be replaced and TÜV-certified before they could be sold."  This is a perfect example of why sustainable waste management is a tricky subject. 

Thankfully, students like Nick are able to see opportunities where some see junk:  “When I first talked to COO Roman Friemel, he told me that he has 100 of these gym lamps, and he doesn’t know what to do with them, so he just kept them in storage.  I asked him if I could get 5 of them just to experiment with them.  I spent a whole weekend filing off the edges of the lamp with an angle grinder, so they can stand straight and not fall over.  We sanded the edges, we added glue and pads to the bottom so they don’t scratch the floor." The final product is “recycled and reused lamps with LED strips to make them really beautiful and light up.  I request 100 Euros for each lamp, and all of the money goes to the Tanzania project."

MIS Students can help solve communal challenges by collaborating with our top leadership to practice sustainability on our own campus. COO Roman Friemel encourages collaborating with students on eco-projects, explaining that “the benefits of collaborative learning with students as Administrators include the development of higher-level thinking, self-management, and leadership skills. It also fosters a teamwork mind-set and problem-solving skills. And, it is fun and makes learning at MIS more relevant to Students."

Nick's message to our school community is to make small changes:  "Even though they are just small changes; in the future, they can be something big. I am just interested in working and doing something. I can’t just sit at home and do nothing. I need a project, I need to work, I need to do something to make the world a better place."  

If you would like a lamp for your home, please email MIS-Gym-Lamps@gmx.com.  





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