Anita McBride’s Story

“This year’s goal was to give students an opportunity to research a sustainability topic of interest using on-line resources by BTCEA and then develop their own plan for changing an action, habit or attitude related to their topic […] Overall I believe the project was interesting and motivated many students to look at their own sustainability habits and decisions. It was also very helpful to have the direct support from BTCEA via phone, e-mail or workshops.”

Our school’s Science department has been collaborating to develop a sustainability inquiry project to fit the objectives of the new curriculum in Science 9. This year’s goal was to give students an opportunity to research a sustainability topic of interest using on-line resources by BTCEA and then develop their own plan for changing an action, habit or attitude related to their topic. 

Students researched one sustainability topic of interest using on-line resources by Be the Change Earth Alliance (BTCEA – SLS blended module). The rough draft of an inquiry to change a personal action, habit or attitude preceded on-line research. After on-line research they revisited their hypothesis to change and recorded observations over 5 days. They completed a lab style report with a hypothesis, procedure, observations, discussion and conclusion. Students also gave a presentation to the class on their sustainability topic.

Students in most groups expressed and demonstrated more awareness of their use of resources such as electricity, water, plastic and paper. During the week of observations, their choices were influenced by previous on-line research and group goals. My students set a good example which motivated me to be more careful with my use of plastic and paper in particular. I appreciated the way they showed integrity with following through on what they had learned. Student presentations were well prepared and interesting. Most students demonstrated a shift in their worldview that reflected greater concern for the environment. Students made a personal connection with doing something to help their environment.

It was enjoyable seeing students develop their own ideas on how to change personal practices related to a sustainability issue. The honor system was used for observations made outside of class. I haven’t figured out a way around this. Some topics lent themselves to making a personal change that was easy to monitor (e.g. # plastic bottles saved by refilling a water bottle to the 500 ml mark, tracking paper consumption, tracking recycled materials) while others involved talking to merchants and shoppers (e.g. going on a shopping trip to find sources of sustainable seafood and interviewing people to find out attitudes about buying sustainable fish). One student was travelling during most of the project but she did a presentation comparing attitudes on electricity use in Europe versus Canada which was great.

Overall I believe the project was interesting and motivated many students to look at their own sustainability habits and decisions. It was also very helpful to have the direct support from BTCEA via phone, e-mail or workshops.


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