Students lead sustainability projects at Caledonia Regional High
Apr 12, 2022
School years pass so fast it can be easy just to keep doing things the way they have always been done.
That’s why New Brunswick’s new pilot Grade 10 curriculum in Anglophone districts, “Science for Sustainable Societies,” is so important. Instead of just teaching basic concepts, it empowers students to use scientific knowledge to ask questions and draw evidence-based conclusions to navigate an increasingly complex world.
The Gaia Project’s Sustainability in Action program aligns perfectly with the inquiry-based approach of this pilot curriculum, and I was excited to bring it to my Grade 10 science classroom at Caledonia Regional High School in Hillsborough, N.B.
For six weeks, 29 students practiced the art of scientific inquiry at school. They formed teams to explore how various systems in our school could be improved, studying heating and water, power, food and waste management, and even paper recycling systems. And all with no budget and entirely on school grounds during a global pandemic!
Meet a couple of these incredible teams and their real-world projects.
Living a Lie?
There’s been a general feeling at our school for years that in-class recycling efforts may not result in actual landfill reduction.
Emma, Jacob, Nathan, Joe and Savana set out to see if there was any truth to these suspicions by closely studying the waste systems.
Each classroom has green bags for wet trash and blue ones for dry. When the team saw the school’s trash hauler deposit the blue and green bags in the same truck chamber, they knew they were onto something. They lined up a Microsoft Teams chat with the collection company and confirmed that all waste was going to the landfill because it wasn’t being sorted properly.
The team proposed a new system: blue bags for recycling, clear bags for all other waste. Green composting bags would be reserved for the cafeteria, where substantial food waste was occurring daily.
The team presented its findings and recommendations to The Gaia Project and our principal. Their recommendations will be adopted as soon as September 2022 and will result in reduced landfill waste for our school and community. Win!
Splish Splash, We Need Cash!
Going to school next to the mighty Petitcodiac River may increase the value our students place on fresh water. One team of students made it their mission to examine water use at our school.
Garret, Jericho, Jax, Marshall, Braden, Jesse, and Cole formed a team devoted to understanding water waste by focusing on sink taps and toilets. Not the most glamorous science experiment!
The team found the toilets were already efficient when it came to water use, but the sinks could be improved. They discovered that the conventional twist taps in many of the bathrooms use over a litre of water more water per hand wash compared to newer, push-down timed fixtures. They did a survey to determine the average number of handwashes per day, c
alculating nearly 160,000 litres of fresh water is wasted annually at CRHS just from hand-washing, which has increased during the pandemic.
With help from staff at the school district, the team got a quote of $250 per sink to upgrade. They also found a small change to reduce water use: faucet inserts that change the flow to multiple spray jets instead of the current deluge that comes out.
The team hopes its findings will help encourage the school district to think environmentally when choosing fixtures for future school upgrades.
They are excited to be able to promote real sustainable change!
If you’re interested in learning more about bringing Gaia’s Sustainability in Action program to your classroom or school, click here to get in touch. Together, let’s uproot the status quo!
Follow us on social for more stories, news and updates: