Macleay Island State School
Macleay Island STEAM Team
Macleay Island State School STEAM classes are working together to repair, reuse and recycle locally salvaged objects and materials as part of a living, growing, chemical free "Nature vs Industry" manual arts installation that runs holistically throughout the school’s physical and cultural environment developed during bi-weekly STEAM sessions. Macleay Island State School’s STEAM curriculum coordinator and teacher Leah Zaki promotes sustainable values relevant to island culture and community by inviting families and community groups such as the Macleay Island Homegrown Evergreen Gardeners, Infinite Earth: Organic Market, Renegades Carpenters and the Macleay Island Arts Community to connect with our manual arts, visual arts, Waste Warrior and Green Thumb projects this year. Enriched by his musical and educational resources, not to mention an up close and personal visit, our classes have been inspired by Formidable Vegetable Sound System front man Charlie McGee’s fun and passionate approach to sustainable living. Permaculture systems and principles are incorporated throughout our projects connecting classes and families in a combined and passionate effort to keep ourselves and our islands healthy.
Junior Waste Warrior Projects Students in the junior school have been salvaging materials and objects made from particular materials that can be reused or recycled from home. Containers are washed, lids match jars and even biodegradable plastic bags have been collected in their hundreds. From glass jar terrariums and cardboard coffee cup seedling raisers to an old broken bass drum used to store Lego we have spent our STEAM classes this term up cycling objects that often end up in landfill or at best “in the shed” forever.
Senior Green Thumb Projects Our "Green Thumb" passionate seniors are raising awareness of Permaculture Principle 6 “Create no waste” as part of their “Nature Vs Industry” manual arts STEAM Project by repairing and reusing materials from around the home to grow Green Team mobile gardens. Students in years 3-6 have become salvage experts learning to save seeds, take cuttings and attempt to repair then reuse materials that no longer suit their original purpose before recycling, buying new or at worst wasting. Inspired by local success stories such as the house built entirely from recycled materials right here on Macleay island, our connection to the Organic Farm, rugs made from rags and plastic bottles by local Indigenous Artists and the local man who turns empty gas cylinders into Harp Drums students are discovering the excitement of a successful salvage and that what we need is all around us deeming outsourcing to the shop or landfill unnecessary.
A small group of senior girls have worked closely with Miss Zaki repairing and rewiring an old LED kettle. After completely disconnecting the kettle's element it is no longer able to produce heat. We left the LED light's circuit connected to that the kettle is able to light up blue when flicked on. Instead of throwing this kettle that was cracked at the top and had become built up with lime away the girls are now using the glass jug as a mini aquaponics unit housing a native guppy whose water does not require aerating... apparently and several small plants they are testing in this environment under the blue LED light. Stay tuned for photos!
Our STEAM Room is headquarters for our Waste Warriors, Green Thumbed Gurus and most Wild Children (including Miss Zaki). The classroom itself had been used as the place shelving, broken resources, old books and mysteries went to die.. until this year. Now our STEAM engine is chugging away without unnatural lighting, an electronic whiteboard, a televisions, computers or even a decent fan (so steamy). We learn inside and outside the STEAM Room where kids of all ages can be heard laughing while designing, building, caring for their plants, up cycling "donated" trash into treasure and making music from the many instruments we have salvaged together. Miss Zaki couldn't be happier with the way students care for our banana and South American walnut trees, orchids and hundreds of seedlings on the days she isn't on campus and is enormously grateful for the love and support this project has received from our school and wider community.
Spending an hour outside and switching off the classroom saves 230 CO2e-kgs a year from being released into the atmosphere.