Our society faces great challenges, and one of the main ones is reduce the effects of human activities They are producing in the environment and that affects each and every one of our daily activities. Specifically, with regard to how teachers and students in schools can contribute to stop global warming and the loss of water resources, the school Laude Newton College in Elche is a benchmark in this regard, since it is carrying out an Eco School program, the main objective of which is to decrease the ecological footprint.
“Our educational vocation, and therefore our philosophy, is to get students to learn, and improve day by day. But this learning must be put into a real context and apply, if we want these girls and boys to keep them in the long term and if, as our center philosophy says, they become citizens. responsible and supportive”, Tells us the head of the Science Department, Jonathan Cascales.
Sustainable school projects
Through the ecological footprint concept, students are asked to reduce the resources they use (water, paper, electricity …) and also the waste they generate, thus being more sustainable. “Our responsibility as educators and a role model for them is to take the first step. For this reason, from the center we have been betting on the reduction of electricity consumption in classrooms, replacing conventional fluorescent lamps with more efficient led lights”Explains Cascales, who is also a professor of Biology and Geology, and Environmental Systems and Societies.
“If this knowledge stays in the classroom, the student is left with a” half “learning, for that reason we propose different practical activities”
Laude Newton has also bet on the Reduction of water consumption by installing diffusers in all taps in the center, so that the water flow is reduced without reducing efficiency. In this sense, students also began to be encouraged to replacement of plastic bottles by reusable metal bottles, and for this different chilled water dispensers in each of the buildings in the center. In addition to introduce the Ipad to reduce paper consumption and the future installation of solar panels to reduce the carbon footprint.
Within the curriculum of the different science subjects appears the concept of sustainability but “if this knowledge stays within the classroom, the student is left with a” half “learning and that is why we propose different practical activities to be able to use those theoretical contents, and I have to say that the response of our boys and girls is exceptional and that makes us work with more motivation ”, says the head of the Science Department.
National Final of “Science in Action” 2020
A first example of this was the aquaponic cultures in which, based on the model of fish farming in rice fields in Southeast Asia, a pilot plant in which the cultivation of vegetables typical of the area was integrated, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, in an aquatic environment (hydroponic, without the need for soil) with carp farming, reducing the amount of water needed for them, of fertilizers and reducing the amount of food needed for the fish.
This project was carried out within the subjects of “Earth and Environmental Sciences” of the national program and “Environmental Systems and Societies” of the International Baccalaureate program.
In this way they link the theoretical contents of the subjects and their close community. The project was selected for the national final of “Science in Action” 2020. Efforts were started to develop it in different areas of Elche, but the current context has caused it to be parked for the moment.
Reusable tin cans
Another project the school is working on are the vertical gardens. “This project is special to me, as it shows that these small activities have a real impact on people that surround us, ”says Cascales.
After some initial projects with primary school students in which plastic bottles were used as flower pots, Jose Luis, in charge of the maintenance of the center, came up with the idea of reuse used tin cans in the dining room as more durable planters. It was he himself who took care of collect, clean and adapt them to be hung around the perimeter of the center. This adds value and broadens the concept of the school community. It has been achieved transform a waste into a resource, in addition to helping plant growth as a sink for CO2, at the same time that the individual role in this global problem is visualized.
The school garden is another important pillar in this sustainability goal. On the one hand, it boosts changes in eating habits of students towards a healthier diet, trying to bring the male and female students closer to vegetable consumption.
In this case, Y8 is in charge of carrying it out. At the back of the center there are three planters built with palets reciciclados by a local association of people with functional diversity. A composter, in which plant remains and California red worms are used to, again, transform a waste into a resource, compost that is used to fertilize one’s own garden.
“The students use part of their free time in recess for these activities, cleaning weeds, painting and repairing the planters, harvesting and cultivating, etc., and despite being in their free time they are delighted,” says Cascales.
Waste in the school cafeteria
One of the main sources of waste generators in a school center are the school canteens, since in thiss large amounts of oils are used for the preparation of different foods and uneaten food scraps. That is why they have started two new projects, aligned with the previous ones.
Transformation of food scraps
The first is the utilization of black soldier fly larvae, Gnadochaeta illucens; in the transformation of food scraps into compost for use in the school garden, with what they hope decrease composting time facilitating the work of the red worms. They are currently in the initial phase, and there are already Y12 students designing prototypes to analyze their functionality and viability.
The second project related to the waste from the school cafeteria consists of the Recycling of oil for its transformation into artisan soap. In this case, it is the girls and boys from Y12 and Y13 who are in charge of carrying out the first stages of soap formation and later the primary school students will shape and distribute them.
Proyecto “I am an ISP Scientist”
Finally, within the “I am an ISP Scientist” project, different schools belonging to the ISP group have begun to work with a specific app for the detection of plastic waste. Apart from learning the impact generated by our daily activities, they also learn concepts such as sampling strategies, data analysis, hypothesis design …
That is to say, an integration of ethical principles and values is made, theoretical knowledge, creativity, tools that students need to solve the problems generated by our society and that they will need to develop in their professional and personal future.
“We will benefit from the positive changes we make and suffer the negative consequences of not changing”
“The objective of all these activities is clear. We are all participants in the well-being of our planet, from companies, through teachers, students, parents … In addition we will benefit from positive changes that we perform and we will suffer the negative consequences of not changing. If we apply what we learn we will never forget it ”, confesses the Biology professor.
“It is school pretends to be that little seed that generates a permanent change in our community, we must set an example, provide them with ideas but also tools for them to learn, and want, to conserve our great planet. Even the longest of roads begins with the first step ”, concludes the professor.
Location of Laude Newton College
Camí Vell d´Alacant, Km 3, 03295 Elche, Alicante
Tel: (+34) 96 545 1428
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.