Collecting 500 pieces of playground rubbish in 20 minutes inspired a major behaviour change program at Gabbinar State School, Toowoomba, Queensland.
“Students knew that rubbish and plastic affects wildlife so when they saw their impact, they knew their choices have a real impact and they needed to do something.” explained Samantha Ritche, Gabbinbar teacher.
Samantha and Marion Elvery worked together with their 50 Year 4 students for the Enviroweek action.
They kicked off with a waste audit showing students how much waste they create and that small changes, like their personal lunch wrappers, would have a major impact on reducing waste to landfill. “Students were astounded by the volume of waste their lunches create.”
Students created an awareness of waste and recycling to engage the whole school including
- Writing to the Principal and tuck shop for action on recycling and alternatives to plastic packaging
- Posters around the school
- Sorting school recycling
- Investigating waste and reporting to the whole school assembly
Plot to plate raising healthy kids and school funds
At Gabbinar student food waste is the treasure that creates a thriving vegetable garden used to raise funds, reinforce classroom learning and behaviour change programs.
“We used Enviroweek’s spring celebration theme to harvest, eat and sell our produce. The profits go back into the school, while the produce is used health lessons to showing how to create healthy waste-free lunches.”
The Year 4’s showcased their work with a healthy food expo afternoon for parents. Each student had their own stand, to showcase their healthy snack recipes. “With the popularity of cooking shows, this really engaged students and got parents on board with healthy lunches.”
Prizes engage students
Samantha rewarded students with spot prizes won through the Enviroweek newsletter.
“We won two prizes – Enviroweek t – shirts, which were used to reward top performers in the waste audit and an eco-food camping kit which we used as a reward for excellent class work.”
Samantha said the best part about Enviroweek was the ease with which it complemented what was already happening in the classroom.
“Cool Australia curriculum provided free lesson plans and teaching resources which reinforce lessons. We found the video snippets and online lectures were excellent. The students were very interested to learn about micro plastics and gardens from these videos, because they were well made, engaging, and presented by a younger person’.
‘Life Cycle Thinking’ is an online professional development course that helps you explore with your students why plastic isn’t so fantastic. You can also learn how to conduct school waste audits with your students in ‘What a Load of Rubbish’.
BY: SUSAN TATE