Climate ready schools

Climate ready schools


Here in the City of Onkaparinga, climate change is being planned for through the ‘Resilient South’ program which is looking at adaptation approaches with three other councils in the southern (Adelaide) area. Well climate change is really important to councils and certainly to us and that’s because we’re actually the level of government that’s most affected by the impacts of climate change. Schools are critical because really the next generation is unfortunately going to feel the impacts even more than ours so they really need to understand the dynamics of climate change, they need to understand where they live and they’re going to need to make decisions and really be active in this space. Natural Resources Management Education team in league with the ‘Resilient South’ program from the City of Onkaparinga is running Climate Ready Schools, where students look at issues in relation to climate change and come up with adaptation approaches. Four primary schools in the City of Onkaparinga, including Hackam East, Southern Montessori, Aldinga Beach B-7 and Tatachilla College are taking part in the Climate Ready Schools program. Through professional development the program provided teaching staff with information about climate change issues both at a global and local level, and went through the design thinking process to use as a tool when delivering a student led problem based learning approach, delivered through science technology, engineering, arts and maths, otherwise known as STEAM. Students were given a climate change issue. They used the design thinking process to come up with solutions to that issue. The design thinking process that we employed the students, first of all would identify the problem. Then they would come up with some ideas, some solutions and they’d do a bit of research, so when they were doing the shade sails, they would find out how much things would cost, how they could put them up, how much shade they would actually provide and then they went through the designing so they’d actually create the design. Then they would build some prototypes. They got feedback on the prototypes from their peers. Then they were able to go back and adapt, make any changes and then put it out to the wider public, so in our case that happened to be the ‘Holly Unit’, the other students in that unit and the students in that unit were able to vote using sticky dots as to which one they thought best met the criteria. Schools were provided with a number of resources including heat mapping to assist in developing their project ideas. I think we did the brainstorming and investigating very well but when it came to getting into groups and really honing in on a design they found that quite challenging. So this is going to be a green roof. so this is the corrugated roof. We’ve got all the layers. First gravel, then we’ve got shade cloth, then sand, then we’ve got dirt then we’ve got the grass. Every group came up with some sort of solution and a journey that they got through to get to the end. Over Terms three and four, the students worked on their projects, many choosing to prototype their ideas. I have a Year Seven class and we were looking at how we can adapt or mitigate various things according to or in response to climate change. My student came out and they went around the entire school, looking at looking at different spaces, finding different problems. We came back and looked at a heat map of our school and we found that this space here, the bike track area was the hottest spot in the school and we went for the adaptation model. So we would say, ok, if it’s really really hot here, how can we change it and make it a much more usable space? One of the ideas the students came up with, they said, ok we want to put some shade there. They looked at different ways they could provide some shade. Some people thought we could make a great big shelter over the whole area, other people thought they could do shade sails. Some people said we could put trees here. Then when we had a discussion about it, most of the students came to the conclusion that having trees is a much more sustainable and eco-friendly way of going about it. With the trees and stuff, that’s basically just meant to keep the shade and it’s environmentally friendly and so we’ve got these seating areas as logs. For safety (soft fall), we’ve got bark and for fun there is rope climbing and flying foxes so just for entertainment, and it’s all safe and nothing that we can get hurt by. Each school selected two project groups to pitch their ideas to the climate ready schools forum, presenting to representatives of the City of Onkaparinga, Department for Education and the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Rages Natural Resources Management Board. I am so inspired by what has been achieved by these students. My expectations have been completely blown. We saw students engaging with their leadership, so speaking to financial managers and principals and working on strategies to reduce energy use. Students educating younger peers in their classes, such a range of impressive projects and I feel very hopeful for the future and what can be achieved in this program. I thought the guys did a really good job. Their presentation showed the stages we’ve gone through and where we’re heading to next. The future is looking really bright because there are lots of students in our unit who are going to take it forward next year. Who knows, we might see some of these projects actually evolving and becoming something that we can really take on and use. It was really interesting to hear the feedback and to start thinking about ok, where to next with what they’ve said. They did a great job at giving the kids positive feedback but things to think of, It’s good for kids to learn to get feedback from different people. That’s the bit we couldn’t practice though so they were a bit nervous about that but it’s great for them. We’ve seen some amazing and innovative projects today. The next step will be helping them to implement those projects in their schools and to help with funding where we can. If you’d like to find out more about Climate Ready Schools program contact NRM Education.

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