Getting into the Sustainability mind set!
Somerville Primary School took on the Core Module this year to begin our journey towards embedding sustainability in our children’s, staff and school community’s mindset. Our goal has been to push the idea that ‘from little things, big things grow’!
Our school has been in the midst of numerous building projects over the last three years so there has been a major disruption to many aspects of daily school life. Our grounds have been in upheaval with buildings being pulled down, replacement buildings taking shape, old buildings modified, temporary portables brought in to house displaced classrooms and a new kindergarten being built on site. The final building project – Somerville Kindergarten, is drawing to a close and will be open for classes in 2013. Over the next few years the biodiversity of the school grounds will be attended to as we strive to maintain our current gardens and establish new areas with a focus on indigenous plantings.
Over the past years we have installed several water tanks at our school. One tank is to flush our toilets, and three large tanks collect water from our school hall to supply water for garden beds – mainly our vegetable garden at present.
Our vegetable garden has been re-established over the past eighteen months and we have several children who like to come and work in the garden during their breaks. Each classroom is encouraged to sort their waste into co-mingled recycling bins, organic waste and landfill.
The organic waste is regularly brought to the Science room to be placed in the Bokashi buckets or to go to the ordinary compost bins in our vegetable garden.
So far we are able to celebrate achieving well below the water usage benchmark proving us to be very water efficient! Our waste landfill has also decreased dramatically even though this is not yet reflected in our SETS data. We have a fixed contract with a collection company for another year however the bin is rarely full. Our cleaners are the ones who have noted the big change as they rarely have a full bag of rubbish from any of our buildings at the end of the day compared to a full bag for most classrooms (eleven) prior to this year!
Lisa from Melbourne Water came earlier in the year to take lessons that introduced the children in our year two and three classes to the amazing biodiversity of the local creek and catchment area. Many children were not aware of the creek’s existence as it is often not running due to lack of water! They learned about water turbidity, the causes of turbidity and the impact it has on the biodiversity of the creek. Exploring water samples and finding macro-invertebrates was lots of fun and drew many exclamations as children found bloodworms, dwarf galaxias, damsel fly nymphs, backswimmers and water boatmen!
Sustainability was a focus of Science lessons for the year two/three classes throughout term three. Children in these classes completed a unit focusing on the impact their lifestyles have on the environment and where our energy sources come from. This achieved similar results to the Ecological Footprint. The catchcry became ‘ARE you a future eater or an Earth friendly person?’ as they began to realise the impact their lifestyles had on our natural resources and the immediate environment.
Jack from our 2/3 area really took this to heart and wanted to have a positive impact on the environment. He formed a small ‘club’ to help improve the school grounds. His team of helpers included Shanley, Spencer, Sheena, Emily and Harry. His mission is “To make sure Mother Earth doesn’t die.” He wants our Earth to be sustainable. He wants life on Earth to keep on going. He recognises that if we don’t look after the planet now in the future it won’t be a pleasant place to be.
At our a very successful Science Expo night on October the 24th this message was strongly reinforced to our community with expert assistance from Mornington Council Waste disseminating the message of recycling and introducing our local community to the Red Project. http://www.redproject.net.au/welcome.html
A ‘Recycling Right’ Colouring competition was displayed that promoted recycling batteries and sorting rubbish for the co-mingled recycling bins councils provide for each household. Other presenters on the night came from Elizabeth Murdoch Secondary College, Westernport Secondary College and The Bureau of Meteorology. They conducted some fun Chemistry, Biology, Physics and weather activities.
We believe we are well on the way to achieving our goal of sustainability and building the children’s awareness of what steps they can take to help make their future world a sustainable one where they can feel proud of their choices and know they have helped to make a difference.