During Term 2, 2010 the grade 3-6 students undertook a unit of work entitled: Design and the built environment. The grade 5/6 students’ goal was to create an environment that is fun and sustainable. The students designed aspects and built models of the school playground with assistance from ‘experts’ in our community. Their focus was primarily to create new ‘Learnscapes’ for all to use in the wider school community.
Holy Spirit PS Design and the built environment
The school itself was undergoing a ‘make-over’ as part of the Building Education Revolution at the time of this unit. The students were asked to come up with environmentally friendly design changes for the school that could actually be implemented. There was hours of research conducted by the students and they looked into resources that were safe for use and also friendly to the environment. They investigated what materials were already being used to build structures around the school and then evaluated how effective they have been in terms of the school environment. They especially investigated using recycled products for the majority of their concepts even though they were aware of a much higher cost compared to newly created resources.
We invited a parent to visit with the students during their planning phase. James Dawson, landscape architect, gave up his time and explained his procedure for designing sustainable gardens. He was able to work with all of the senior students and share his knowledge in terms of what is realistic and cost effective in a small space like our school playground.
The students created a scale model to demonstrate their concepts to our school principal – Rosa Wilkinson. They had to convince her of the sustainability benefits of their designs as well as the approximate cost. Many of the small focus groups chose to focus on the immediate benefit to the other children in the playground as they saw this as being sustainable in terms of how they effectively use the common ground.