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The Australian Education Reporter - - FRONT PAGE -

GREAT LEARN­ING EN­VI­RON­MENTS

ABOUT 90 per cent of par­tic­i­pants in a sur­vey of more than 5000 teach­ers, cur­ricu­lum co­or­di­na­tors, and prin­ci­pals by the Aus­tralian As­so­ci­a­tion for En­vi­ron­men­tal Ed­u­ca­tion agreed that sus­tain­abil­ity ed­u­ca­tion was vi­tal to stu­dents’ fu­tures.

Whether it’s im­ple­ment­ing a school wide re­cy­cling scheme, or in­stalling rain wa­ter tanks, and even a worm farm – schools across Aus­tralia are think­ing of the fu­ture.

With the av­er­age Aus­tralian class­room con­sum­ing about 3800KWH of elec­tric­ity per year, sus­tain­abil­ity also in­cludes em­ploy­ing power sav­ing ini­tia­tives. Now, sus­tain­able class­rooms have the po­ten­tial to re­duce both en­ergy con­sump­tion and costs in our schools.

The Fed­eral Govern­ment, through the Aus­tralian Re­new­able En­ergy Agency (ARENA), is pro­vid­ing more than $350,000 to trial re­new­able pow­ered class­rooms cou­pled with smart tech­nol­ogy in two NSW schools.

The Hivve sus­tain­able class­room project was de­vel­oped to in­te­grate high qual­ity mod­u­lar class­rooms that adopt mod­ern tech­nolo­gies in the form of so­lar power and en­ergy ef­fi­ciency.

The two pro­to­type class­rooms have been in­stalled at two Syd­ney schools, St Christopher’s Pri­mary School, Holswor­thy and Dapto High School.

Min­is­ter for the Environment and En­ergy Josh Fry­den­berg said there are more ben­e­fits that the class­rooms cater­ing for their own en­ergy re­quire­ments.

“They have the abil­ity to not only power them­selves, but also gen­er­ate enough power for two ad­di­tional con­ven­tion class­rooms, to­tal­ing ap­prox­i­mately 11,400 KWH per year,” Mr Fry­den­berg said.

Schools can link the self-pow­ered class­rooms with en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able ed­u­ca­tion in the cur­ricu­lum as the class­rooms pro­vide real time in­for­ma­tion about elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion, air tem­per­a­ture, and C02 lev­els.

“This is a great op­por­tu­nity for our stu­dents to learn about en­ergy pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion as well as var­i­ous ex­cit­ing tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ments – many of which Aus­tralia is at the fore­front,” he said.

The pro­to­type class­rooms, which have suc­cess­fully demon­strated func­tion­al­ity in a con­trolled environment, will be mon­i­tored and eval­u­ated over a 12 month pe­riod.

In Queens­land, schools are go­ing so­lar with the State Govern­ment set to spend al­most $100 mil­lion with the Ad­vanc­ing Clean En­ergy Schools (ACES) pro­gram es­ti­mated to save schools $10.2 mil­lion per year; sav­ings which will be rein­vested into the ACES for fu­ture sus­tain­abil­ity pro­grams.

Queens­land Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk said the so­lar en­ergy sys­tems on over 800 State school roofs would con­trib­ute to Queens­land’s re­new­able en­ergy target.

“The Ad­vanc­ing Clean En­ergy Schools or ACES pro­gram will save our schools an es­ti­mated $10.2 mil­lion a year. That’s a great sav­ing for schools as well as a fan­tas­tic con­tri­bu­tion to our 50 per cent re­new­able en­ergy target by 2030,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

In Vic­to­ria, 100 Govern­ment schools are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Greener Govern­ment School Build­ings Pi­lot Pro­gram to lower en­ergy bills and re­duce green­house gas emis­sions by an es­ti­mated 25,000 tonnes each year.

Par­tic­i­pat­ing schools are re­quired to pay back the cost for the up­grades over a pe­riod of five years based on the sav­ings achieved by the school each year, af­ter which each school will keep 50 per cent of the sav­ings gen­er­ated.

“This is about sup­port­ing schools to save on their power bills and help stu­dents learn about be­ing more en­ergy ef­fi­cient,” Vic­to­rian Ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter James Mer­lino said.

For schools look­ing for ways to pro­mote sus­tain­abil­ity ed­u­ca­tion, Eco-schools Aus­tralia of­fers the Eco-schools frame­work; a cur­ricu­lum-linked, demo­cratic and par­tic­i­pa­tory pro­gram that pro­vides an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity for stu­dents to ex­pe­ri­ence ac­tive cit­i­zen­ship in their schools.

Eco-schools Aus­tralia Na­tional Pro­grams

“The weav­ing of an en­vi­ron­men­tal ed­u­ca­tion di­men­sion in a par­tic­u­lar sub­ject en­riches the sub­ject con­cerned and thus makes it more rel­e­vant and in­ter­est­ing.”

man­ager Ma­rina An­to­niozzi said the sim­plest way for schools to start is to in­fuse en­vi­ron­men­tal ed­u­ca­tion con­cepts into ex­ist­ing sub­jects.

“The weav­ing of an en­vi­ron­men­tal ed­u­ca­tion di­men­sion in a par­tic­u­lar sub­ject en­riches the sub­ject con­cerned and thus makes it more rel­e­vant and in­ter­est­ing,” Ms An­to­niozzi said.

“In­te­gra­tion into the cur­ricu­lum does not have to be oner­ous. It can vary from a short ref­er­ence when a cur­ricu­lum topic war­rants it, to full-scale link­ing so that Eco-schools ac­tiv­i­ties fully cover par­tic­u­lar cur­ric­u­lar re­quire­ments,” she said.

Stu­dents in Eco-schools are em­pow­ered and en­gaged about en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues be­cause they get stuck into practical projects that they feel are needed to im­prove the school environment or to ad­dress a global is­sue – whether that’s cam­paign­ing against lit­ter, im­prov­ing wildlife habi­tats on cam­pus, sav­ing wa­ter, or in­ves­ti­gat­ing Fair­trade.

“They [stu­dents] take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the project, learn about the is­sue and work to­gether to im­ple­ment the so­lu­tion. Stu­dents learn to work in­de­pen­dently from adults, feel em­pow­ered and able to ex­press their own voice,” Ms An­to­niozzi said.

Class­room and larger school projects can also bring tra­di­tional lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy work to life, whether that’s record­ing and chart­ing waste from school lunches or cal­cu­lat­ing the vol­ume of com­post re­quired to fill the school’s new veggie plot.

Schools can re­ceived Bronze, Sil­ver and Green Flag awards to en­cour­age stu­dents and chal­lenge them with tasks like mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­at­ing project im­pacts, de­sign­ing and adopt­ing an Eco-code, and adding a com­mu­nity en­gage­ment el­e­ment to all projects.

In 2018, Eco-schools Aus­tralia is run­ning the Lit­ter Leg­ends Cam­paign where 20 Aussie Eco-schools will re­ceive seed grants of $500 to im­ple­ment a project to re­duce lit­ter and im­prove re­cy­cling in their school and com­mu­nity.

Teach­ers are best placed to act as sus­tain­able role mod­els for stu­dents and to help chil­dren practical and en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly projects.

“Lead­ing by ex­am­ple is the first thing a teacher can do to im­ple­ment en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly prac­tices in the class­room, for ex­am­ple turn­ing the lights off when leav­ing the room, re­cy­cling, min­imis­ing food waste, grow­ing a veggie patch, com­post­ing, start­ing a zero-waste class­room pol­icy, walk­ing or cy­cling to school, or con­duct­ing a class­room/school en­vi­ron­men­tal au­dit,” Ms An­to­niozzi said.

“These ac­tions will send pos­i­tive and pow­er­ful mes­sages to the stu­dents and will en­cour­age them to ex­tend these green habits to their home environment and be­yond,” she said.

“The im­pact teach­ers can have on their stu­dent is im­mense and this has rip­pling ef­fects as stu­dents learn how to pos­i­tively af­fect their lives and that of their fam­ily, friends and the wider com­mu­nity at large.”

“This is a great op­por­tu­nity for our stu­dents to learn about en­ergy pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion as well as var­i­ous ex­cit­ing tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ments – many of which Aus­tralia is at the fore­front.”

All im­ages: Eco Schools Aus­tralia.

Ti­nana State School is the first Eco-school to achieve the Green Flag in Aus­tralia.

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