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  Wie schön blüht uns der Maien -
  A German Folk Song.


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Opening in July 2006, Waldsee BioHaus Environmental Living Center in the German Language Village of Waldsee at Concordia Language Villages is the first of its kind in North America.

Living and learning in the BioHaus will be unvergesslich – unforgettable!

What makes Waldsee BioHaus Übercool?
Hear it straight from the Dean of Waldsee,
Dan Karl Hamilton!


Bringing the mission of Concordia Language Villages to life – “to prepare young people for responsible citizenship in our global community” – the Waldsee BioHaus will dazzle a new generation of students with a rich immersion experience in German language and culture that involves learning about energy use, natural resource use and new ideas on how we can all live in a more holistic sustainable global community. This entire educational experience will be taught in German, in the metric system, in the fun, natural playground of the Minnesota North Woods.

“This is Übercool! It’s not boring and abstract,” says Dan Karl Hamilton, Dean of the German language village of Waldsee. “Kids will eat, sleep, cook, clean and play in the most modern new residence you can imagine. This is the right way to experience the German language and German culture.”

Waldsee BioHaus: a one-of-a-kind learning tool that inspires students to live the language and experience the culture of Germany!
So how do you get 12-year-olds excited about understanding how they use energy? How do you inspire them to consider new ways of living more sustainable lifestyles? How do you teach German along the way?

As Edwin Dehler-Seter, Environmental Education/Natural Resource Management Specialist at Concordia Language Villages, says: “You make it personal, hands-on and most importantly, fun and fast-paced!””

To make the whole experience unvergesslich! – unforgettable! – Edwin is crafting a language and environmental educational curriculum to bring it all home for kids: to point them in the right direction, to stimulate their curiosity, to guide them in discovering their own answers.

Here are just a few of the questions kids will tackle while living and learning in Waldsee BioHaus:

What is energy?
There are actually many kinds of energy. What types are you familiar with? Electrical, wind, water, solar, others?

How do you use energy?
Here’s where it gets personal! How much energy does your video game use? What about your fridge? Or your computer? How long would it take you to generate that kind of energy?
Where does energy come from?
It’s not just available you know! Sure it can come out of an outlet in a wall, but where does it really come from?

How does energy work?
We see it powering things all around us. How about building a solar-energy car to really understand what makes it go?

Where does energy naturally occur?
Plants are the ultimate user of natural energy. Let’s explore our natural environment for clues on we can consume energy in smarter ways.

How does the world consume energy?
Let’s start at home here in the U.S. What about other countries? Ever heard of the “2,000 Watt Society?” PDF Hmmm, what habits would we have to change to use less energy?

How does Waldsee BioHaus point us in a new direction?
Look inside the walls. Study the windows. Flush the toilet. Notice how the rooms were arranged. That’s a furnace? See how they’ve all been designed to create a comfortable, energy-efficient, resource-saving environment? Cool, huh? So what little changes could you make in your own home and still make an impact?

Without even knowing it, students will have a ball learning to speak German and really getting inside of the culture of today’s Germany – a people who discovered their own innovative ways of dealing with energy consumption issues in Western Europe.

It’s this total immersion experience – in language, culture and science – that makes learning German (and so much more) at Waldsee BioHaus cooler than ever!

  Hear Concordia Language Villages’ team talk about Waldsee BioHaus

Click here to see a video on Waldsee.

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Now this is amazing! To measure the ongoing, real-time performance of the first-ever certified Passivhaus in North America, students will be able to take the pulse of Waldsee BioHaus through monitors, gauges, webcams and other instruments soon to be uploaded on this website.

Will Waldsee BioHaus perform as expected in the cold Bemidji winters? Not everyone’s positive. At an early planning meeting, Jamie Peterson – BioHaus heating & ventilation subcontractor – said, “We use bigger heaters in our ice-houses than what you have in this building!” But students will soon find out for sure if Waldsee BioHaus systems are performing up to par!
As a fully-networked house, online displays of actual energy use, insulation performance, ventilation proficiency and other building readings will engage and inspire students to compare and contrast a living, breathing Waldsee BioHaus with North American standards – all while improving their proficiency in speaking German.

Through this interactive learning curriculum and its holistic design philosophy, Waldsee BioHaus will shift perspectives and become a hub for a new global network of students and teachers of language, culture, science and environmental studies. And hopefully also influence architects, contractors and building-component providers!

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“This is a building for kids,” says Dan Hamilton. “It is fun, it is comfortable, it is interactive, it is cool. There’s simply nothing like it on either side of the Atlantic.”

Waldsee BioHaus is the newest way to live the experience and promise of Concordia Language Villages: from the moment you wake up in the morning to the time you collapse in your bed at night, you’ve had an amazing day of unbelievable experiences learning a new language, meeting new friends, and changing your understanding of the world – forever.

Waldsee BioHaus is more than a great way to learn about sustainability. It’s a way to experience sustainable living on a global scale – and have a ton of fun doing it!

Fun, hands-on experiments planned for students of Waldsee:

Getting into the Earth Tube.
Fresh-air coming into Waldsee BioHaus will arrive through a fascinating air exchange/heat-recovery system using something called an Earth Tube. Students will love comparing outside temperature readings with those of the air coming into Waldsee BioHaus through the Earth Tube. Once they get that this thing really works, they’ll want to know how!

What’s in a Wall?
Do thicker walls always mean warmer buildings? Students will find out by comparing wall thicknesses of other buildings in Waldsee with the BioHaus. We’ll leave the answers for the kids to discover, but let’s just say the questions will be flying when they calculate that 6” walls can provide up to 90% better insulation than 24” walls!
The Conservation Challenge.
What if you were given an “energy budget” of 2,000 watts per day? Once students understand how different activities, appliances and habits consume energy, they’ll be asked: Could you live within your energy budget? What personal lifestyle choices are you willing to make? What aren’t you willing to change? Why not? What’s the impact of that choice?

Fresh Water Ecology.
We’re surrounded by water in Minnesota. But how do we actually use it? Students will learn to calculate the overall quality of the aquatic system in nearby Turtle River Lake and, based on their findings, start thinking about the sustainable use of our fresh-water resources, how all nutrients find their way into our lakes through septic systems and how Waldsee BioHaus interacts with Turtle River Lake.

Sustainable Forestry Management.
With the help of a grant from the Home Depot Foundation for the development of environmental curriculum to support the Diversification and Sustainable Forest Project around BioHaus, students will explore new ways of conducting forestry through small-logging and pine re-planting projects. What are the trade-offs of using pesticides? When is the best time to plant and harvest trees? Did you know Waldsee BioHaus actually has a window frame made from wood harvested during a full moon?

Green Roof Gardening.
The extensive (vs. intensive!) green roof of Waldsee BioHaus will be an awesome learning environment for students to dig into all the benefits of the earth-friendly technology of organic green roof architecture.

Garden Regeneration.
Many students (and grown-ups!) have very little knowledge of the labor-intensive and lengthy process involved in plant regeneration. But when kids roll up their sleeves and get in contact with the earth as they dig, plant, care and monitor their own plot of plants, new discoveries are made – about plants and themselves! It’s all a great metaphor for how Waldsee BioHaus stands in honor of and in harmony with nature rather than separate from it!

Now can you imagine a couple weeks living and learning at Waldsee BioHaus? If you’re thinking it’s a transformational experience, you’re right. Better yet, just ask the kids themselves. No doubt you’ll hear them say, großartig! – awesome!

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