A school’s participation in Enviroweek attracts parents and grows a strong school community.
At Mt Gravatt Secondary High School in Queensland, parents are enthused by savings at home during Enviroweek, as much as the environmental engagement of their kids. That’s why they are only too happy to support Enviroweek and other green projects that get kids to get out of the classroom and into the great outdoors.
“Parents love Enviroweek because they see the financial gain – if kids are switching off and saving energy, the power bill goes down!” pointed out Mt Gravatt teacher Andrew Walsh. He added that the school’s year-long commitment to sustainability is a key characteristic of their identity in the wider community.
Improve indoor learning through outdoor connections
Environmental sustainability is a personal passion of Mr Walsh’s, who has experienced a level of excitement and interest in students who engage in the environment that is difficult to achieve in front of a whiteboard.
‘Theory’s ok, but the real learning happens outside the classroom. The kids get excited and they feel a huge sense of ownership over their work” explained Andrew.
The school has won prizes at local, state and national level, and has even been named ‘Queensland’s Greenest and Healthiest School’. Within the school gates, a special badge is awarded to a select number of students who display environmental excellence.
Celebrating and embedding environmental actions
This year for Enviroweek, Mt Gravatt Year 11 Geography students will be cleaning up the creek, while Home Economics students will use herbs grown in the vertical garden bed to cook fresh and healthy meals. For Mt Gravatt, Enviroweek is an opportunity to draw together and celebrate the vast number of sustainable projects which are completed throughout the year.
Here is a lesson plan that Health and Home Economic teachers can use to support sustainability in their classrooms: Sustainable Table – The Dairy Diaries
Mr Walsh’s advice to first-time Enviroweek teachers is to create links between the school, and the wider community, as well as across subject areas and year levels. Wide-reaching projects become real conduits for change.
With less than three weeks to go until Enviroweek 2014, now’s the time to plan which challenges your school will undertake to keep Australia cool.
BY: LUCY WALLINGTON