Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Enviroschools Kit Workshop

The Otago Enviroschools team held the first of the workshops to introduce teachers to the new Enviroschools kit. It was held at the awesome Skeggs Gallery and we had a fantastic attendance from primary and secondary schools around the Dunedin area.

Tania and Davina lead a great session exploring the major parts of the new kit. As I'm sure you've noticed the new kit only covers the theme area Me in My Environment, you need to keep hold of your old kit to use the other theme areas.

To help us understand how the Action Learning Cycle works, the new kit has been split into sections which refer to each of the four sections of the ALC. The taking action section has been really ramped up. Remember this is such an important part of the Enviroschools process. We can learn heaps about the environment, but this knowledge is really cemented if we take action to regenerate our environment.

As with all things new it's always good to have a point to your exploration. We split into groups and each group was asked to find an answer to a scenario and then report back to the rest of the group about what they were looking for and where they found it.

Jenny lead a session about the new awards scheme and had a fabulous piece of blue material to represent the awa that is our enviroschools journey. I think the new award framework is such a fantastic way of getting to grips with the Enviroschools process and really helps schools see what wonderful work they have done and also highlights the areas they need to cover.

Anne and I lead a session about www.measuringchange.co.nz, the Enviroschools initiate for us to measure the resources we are saving. This is very valuable information. As funding is increasingly removed from Education for Sustainability information about how much energy was saved, how much waste was diverted from landfill, how much extra green space was added to school grounds.....all helps demonstrate to the politicians and bean counters what a marvelous programme Enviroschools is. It's also a great way to show the students that their actions have not only saved resources but also saved school money.

After digging through web site we split into two groups to have a closer look at some of the activities contained with the Measuring Change kit. These were really successful and prompted lots of lively discussion about how these projects could be executed at school.

Nathan Parker, principal of Warringotn school gave a very informative presentation about Ubuntu, a Linux based operating system that can be installed on computers without a licence fee. This is part of the ever expanding open source software available on the Internet. For most of your needs in school you can find open source software to take the place of many popular office applications, as well as photo and video software. The beauty of open source is that it is free! It's also very often coded so well that it doesn't require the latest and greatest hardware. Have a look on Google for more information about Ubuntu and where to download it from.

After lunch it was time to hear from Maureen from Sustainable Living in Dunedin. The Sustainable Living programme is kind of like Enviroschool for adults. Have a look through their web site to find out full details of what this fantastic course offers. For this afternoon session we were treated to a chemistry lesson on how to make cleaners from natural ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar, lemons...the list goes on.

Unfortunately it was a final farewell for a few of our Otago Enviroschools team. Tania McClean and Davina Hunt are moving onto pastures new and Trisha Korth is disappearing to Antartica for the rest of the school year to do some fantastic marine research. Good luck to all of you, you'll be sorely missed.

We will be running this workshop in Central in October, keep your eyes peeled for the invitation in your inbox soon.

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