“An easy way to dive into environmental education,” was how Tracey Gray from Port Fairy Consolidated School summed up Enviroweek.
“The sharing of participant projects through profiles is fantastic. It allows students to experience the larger connected scale of the program across Australia. That’s a massive benefit for smaller regional schools to showcase their activities and connect with others.”
The Green Team was responsible for planning Enviroweek activities. “They chose to focus on things that are part of everyday learning, to bring them to the forefront and showcase what we are doing.”
Students were able to celebrate achievements and programs were given a new lease of life.
Taking steps to raise awareness
Students noticed the amount of waste that was coming into the school and decided on a waste audit that resulted in a nude food day, where everyone was encouraged to bring nutritious food without packaging.
This got them thinking about the bigger picture and focusing their wider community’s ‘carbon footprint’ including energy usage, carbon miles and how trees help. Their action for this included:
• Switch off day. Classes were audited throughout the day and earned or lost Earth Credits for appliances that were switched on.
• Food miles. Exploring food packages to learn where ingredients come from and calculating the kilometres it travelled
• Tree meet and greet. Students dressed up as trees and asked community members what their carbon wishes were. This formed the base of their ‘We wish’ message for the participant profile.
• Community messaging. Using footprints, students created an artwork to be displayed at their local Bendigo Bank. It prompted community members to think about their footprints and how they effect our environment.
Complete an ecological footprint lesson plan with your students.
Fostering the local environment
Port Fairy provides a natural habitat abundant with wildlife. During Enviroweek, students focused on helping some of the local ‘residents’ in need of support for survival. This included:
• Auditing and mapping local burrowing crayfish habitat
• Looking at the different bugs found in the area (an important indication of habitat health)
• With the help of Bendigo Bank staff, wetlands tree planting
• Maintaining grassland that is home to Latham’s Snipe (birds) and signs to inform people about the fragile habitat
Kids in the kitchen
Grade 3-6 students usually do the cooking at Port Fairy Consolidated School, Enviroweek saw some other grades enjoying the foodie experience.
• Year 1 and 2 students and parents harvested produce from the school’s kitchen garden to create delicious and healthy food together
• Shared Hands pop up restaurant- students sourcing local ingredients and cooking for parents
Everyone’s a winner
Tracey kept Port Fairy Consolidated’s participant profile up-to-date with new photos and directed the school community to view their action through newsletters and local media.
The students were rewarded by winning a ‘most loved’ project prize for the school – wildlife cameras.
The cameras have been installed with the help of members from Brauer College and are used by both schools to monitor wildlife.
“It’s important the kids are connected and feel that they are a part of a bigger program. Enviroweek allows students to look at what other schools are doing and showcase their activities. Winning the wildlife cameras was a bonus!”
The students at Port Fairy Consolidated School have inherited a very important role. With Tracey leading the way, pupils continue to monitor and maintain the natural environment. They raise awareness of the local community and visitors to the area.
Port Fairy Consolidated School will be a part of Enviroweek again. With so many wonderful initiatives in place, it will be exciting to see what they choose to feature this year.
Cool Australia resources
Tracey regularly uses resources from the Cool Australia website. “If you are a classroom teacher they are a great resource. The online component is really alive. Materials are relevant and safe for the pupils. Older students enjoy exploring the images. They hit the mark with stimulating enquiry and interest.”
BY: SUSAN TATE