THE IMPORTANCE OF SPORT
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.”
Tinana State School is the first Eco-school to achieve the Green Flag in Australia.