When it comes to the climate, this international school in Singapore is putting young people in the driver’s seat – carbon neutrally, of course! Last year saw a shift in the debate about the environment and climate; children around the world began to be more vocal on the topic, and began to take action. GEMS World Academy is picking up on this change by giving its students the tools to put their greenest foot forward through conservation and recycling projects.
Grade 4 teacher DALE DARBY says that the school’s curriculum gives the kids autonomy to take the reins when it comes to sustainability issues and finding solutions to environmental problems.
“It’s actually our students who are pushing these conservation and recycling projects,” says Dale. “We’re immensely proud of them taking action to make the world a better place. They organise regular environment-focused activities such as beach clean-ups; they’re tracking their plastic consumption at home and school; and they’re trying to come up with innovative solutions on how to reduce single-use plastic and use water wisely.”
The teachers are playing their part too, of course. One way they help to foster a greener outlook among students is with a “provocation activity” carried out in the school pool.
“We teach a valuable lesson about pollution in the ocean by using our Olympic-sized swimming pool as a plastic dump before a big swim,” says Dale. “This helps our students to inquire into the rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and other living things.”
Dale adds that the exercise gives the children a better sense of communities and the relationships within and between them. It teaches the importance of access to equal opportunities, too, and helps with learning about conflict resolution. “It’s a real-life, authentic experience that enables students to transfer newly acquired skills to everyday life and learn how their personal actions can affect the future.”
A word from a student
The pool activity has certainly had an impact on nine-year-old GEMS student SAYURI. “I can’t believe that sea creatures have to go through this every single day!” she says. “It would be very hard for them to find food in dirty water; and, if there’s no food, they end up dying. I feel really sad for the poor creatures because they have to go through this all because of human actions.”
Sayuri says she has been inspired to go to the beach and pick up rubbish. “Whenever I go shopping, I ask my parents not to use plastic bags. And I always try to reuse plastic bags by using them as trash bags.”
Dale has high hopes about what Sayuri and others will learn from all of this. “We believe that educating students about empathy and the importance of environmental sustainability provides the world with a path to a happier and greener future,” he says. “By learning about compassion, the environment and sustainability, they’ll become globally-minded citizens and carry these habits into their adult years.”
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