Math and sustainability were combined at St Joseph’s the Worker, Reservoir, VIC for Enviroweek and Literacy and Numeracy week.
The whole-school event was initiated by the Year 1 and 2 teachers and students. Each class came with an activity that solved an environmental and a mathematical problem.
Teacher, Vicki De Leo said students collected all the waste in one week that was brought to school in lunch boxes, then they sorted, collated, measured and graphed the results.
Each class used the collected packaging from their lunch boxes and created a waste wall display to raise awareness of the volumes we create.
“As a result, students decided to reduce the packaged food they bring to school and have set the goal of being a ‘package free’ environment.”
“Combining the maths with sustainability shows students exactly how their everyday choices make a difference,” said Vicki.
‘Life Cycle Thinking’ is an online professional development course that helps you explore with your students why plastic isn’t so fantastic. Plus learn how to conduct waste audits with your students in ‘What a Load of Rubbish’.
The St Joseph the Worker Schools’ Green Team is an extra-curricular club of 30 students from Prep to Year 6, that meet every Wednesday at lunchtime.
To join, students must submit an application. For younger students it may be a drawing of a plant or animal, while older students must write a formal letter stating why they wish to take part.
The Green team tends to the school’s ‘bush tucker garden,’ Indigenous corridor, veggie gardens and frog bog and reports back to the school community during Friday assemblies and the through the newsletter, on sustainability.
Every Wednesday throughout the year is also a wrapper-free lunch day, which is a student-led initiative.
The Green Team’s impact extends across the whole school. “Other classes come and plant in the vegetable garden and the indigenous corridor. We’re really trying to embed sustainability in every classroom and create links with the curriculum,” explained Vicki.
Vicki’s Green Team tip – sharing is caring
Vicki’s advice to teachers wanting to start a green club or participate in Enviroweek is to give students plenty of opportunities to present and share their action with the rest of the school.
“Being able to share at assemblies and in the school newsletter, or on the website really gives students a boost. Seeing their faces on the Enviroweek profile page really motivated and encouraged our Green Team this year,” said Vicki.
Vicki’s starting out tip – make it real
Vicki recommends finding green projects that are suitable to the school and protect the natural surrounds.
“Our school backs onto a creek. We noticed that frogs were dying on the journey from the creek to the sandpit, so we built a frog bog to protect them. Parents helped to weed and dig the area and we sought advice from the Darebin Bush Land Management Group.”
Around Enviroweek many classes were studying ‘indigenous perspectives’ and biodiversity. “That led us to look at bush tucker plants and start an indigenous corridor, transforming land along the oval with the help of local nurseries.”
The area will become a wildlife habitat for native birds, animals and insects, and will also stablise a stream bank protecting the creek from storm water run-off.
The goal for Enviroweek 2015 is to organise a smoking ceremony to formally establish this corridor and our bush tucker gardens. It’s a long-term project for all year levels. The year 3 and 4 students who started the corridor, plan to take care of the area until they graduate.
Leading sustainability teaching
Vicki and the Arts leader, Connie Bof, have created environment-teaching packs using Cool Australia’s free curriculum for each subject area to make it easy for every teacher in the school to include sustainability in classroom lessons. The pack contains ideas, activities and resources from many environmental and local groups.
‘Sustainability in the Curriculum’ is an online professional development course that helps you integrate sustainability into your teaching. There are specialised courses for Foundation to Year 2 and Years 3 to 6.
Vicki rewards the Green team with special activities.
“Last year we had a twilight gathering when Jim Mead from Greening Australia came out and we went on a night walk. This year we’re having an animal and reptile group come out to visit us, which the students are very excited about!”
BY: SUSAN TATE