Inspired by their positive experiences of the great outdoors, senior St Augustine’s Green Team members led Enviroweek celebrations for the whole school.
The team focused on fun ‘Wild Child’ lunch-time outdoor activities, including:
• Giant Snakes and Ladders – students became game pieces in a life-sized game, moving up or down based on their answers to environmental questions.
• Treasure hunts – students followed clues around the playground, building local biodiversity knowledge.
• Bird beak identification – students guessed which birds were represented by different household tools, e.g. chopsticks, and experimented with using these for different food sources.
The entire school community then gathered for a picnic lunch and a game of ‘Sustainability Bingo’. The winners were the first students to find nine examples of positive sustainability action taken by adults.
School Sustainability Educator, Nickee Freeman, said students were so engaged that they decided to create their own ‘smart ways to live’ lyrics and video clip.
Beyond the school gates
Year 8 students joined Landcare Australia in planting 400 native plants in a local area containing grey box trees with hollows, the habitat of the threatened squirrel glider species. The aim was to provide shelter and food for the tiny marsupial.
Although Landcare are the custodians of the land, students are involved in the upkeep and monitoring of the habitat.
“Landcare involve the students as often as they can. Students sometimes go to the area to write in their nature journals too,” explained Nickee Freeman, Sustainability Educator.
Where to from here?
Nickee said,“The students really loved Enviroweek. We will definitely be participating in 2015!”
She intends to win some more Enviroweek t-shirts and use them as awards for participation in activities.
“It is important as a school community to raise the bar in sustainability … it needs to be addressed as a cross curriculum priority in line with the new Australian Curriculum. I regularly promote the wonderful resources available to teachers on the Cool Australia website to help them do this.
It contains a lot of Australian facts and figures, which can be hard to find on the internet! The website couldn’t be easier to use, you just click on your year level and content area and it’s all there. It is easy for the kids to access information as well”.
In 2014, Grades 1/2 GA and 1/2 KT participated in a pilot program called the Sustainability Cup. LiveSense engineers installed devices to measure the temperature, light, humidity and ambient temperature of the classrooms.
Students were able to monitor energy consumption by classroom lights, fans and air-conditioning over a week by viewing their data live through the website. The score board showed their progress in reducing energy use and how they were ranked compared to the other participating schools.
Actions that they took to limit their use of power included:
• Using reflective Mylar blankets on east facing brick walls and all exterior windows to repel heat.
• Cutting up towels purchased from the local op shop and wetting them to make cooling scarves to wear rather than using the air-conditioner.
• Monitoring the amount of natural light in the classroom and choosing not to switch on the light or conducting the class outside.
• Making paper fans and fanning themselves and others, rather than using the overhead fans.
• Opting for quiet time after lunch in order to cool down without using electricity.
Nickee noted that during this time there was “quite a serene atmosphere in the classrooms.”
Participation in the Sustainability Cup resulted in behaviour change within the classes. The students voted to continue with their effort for the remainder of the term. The children were far more aware of their energy consumption and took responsibility for finding different ways to save power, and their enthusiasm for this was shared with their families at home.