Discovering new ways to learn while reducing carbon footprint

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Nude Food Day, Earth Hour, class waste surveys and a bio-diversity audit were just a few challenges St Brigid’s Primary School in NSW chose to celebrate Enviroweek.

Impressively, teachers were also challenged to teach for a day without electricity, enabling everyone to reflect on what is left on unnecessarily.

Teacher, Jess Andre, said it was an opportunity to think about all the resources that require electricity. “Ipads, computers, interactive white boards and even the air conditioners and lights.”

To see the lesson plan Jess used at her school to encourage the students to consider their carbon footprint click on the following link: Aussi Ecological Footprint Activity

Eco leaders

St-Brigid-3webDuring Enviroweek, Jess and the Green Team encouraged others to consider their own waste by conducting classroom surveys to learn how recycling bins are used.

Looking at the results, The Green Team concluded that students were great at recycling inside the classroom but everyone needed to lift their game outside. As a result the leaders have embarked on a plan to get a new outdoor recycling system and behaviour change plan in place.

This group of environmental warriors also has a rotating duty roster for eating times. Wearing Enviroweek green t-shirts they monitor lunch waste and help students who are unsure where their waste goes, directing them to recycle, compost or landfill.

‘What a Load of Rubbish’ is an online professional development course that helps you conduct school waste audits with your students. There is a specialised course for secondary teachers.

The Green Team also helped organise a whole school Nude Food Day. Their presence and support encouraging others to stop and think about the waste they bring to school.

Student Parliament

St-Brigid-webSt Brigid’s also have a Student Parliament with some members representing the environment. During Enviroweek these students audited the schoolyard bio-diversity with a focus on grassed playgrounds and areas shaded by native trees.

Teaching outside not just for art

As part of Enviroweek, Jess encouraged colleagues to teach more than art when teaching outside. Some used the outdoor classroom to teach about sustainability and the schools ecosystems. Other teachers conducted Math’s games or used chalk to write on the asphalt.

“The positive impact of outdoor time on indoor learning definitely inspired our teachers to take learning outside,” said Jess.

Future goals

St-Brigid-2After the success of the Nude Food day, Jess and The Green Team hope to get the canteen and school community behind them to make it a regular school event.

While St Brigid’s took on many different projects to celebrate Enviroweek, Jess believes it is important to take ‘baby steps’ leading into the future in order to make lasting and meaningful environmental progress.

Rewards

Jess knows that it is important to both challenge and encourage the students to continue their efforts in creating a sustainable school. She does this by rewarding students with goody bags, USB wristbands and recycled drink bottles as well as raffles. Jess also has ‘class spies’ who monitor the use of electricity and recycling bins around the school, keeping both students and teachers on their toes!

By: Rebecca Mills