This STEM Discovery Week’s event has dealt with the topic of problems in the local community within the school program of Civics for the 7th grade. My class chose the problem of pollution in the city of Zaječar, they also focused on the danger of plastic waste, since it takes from 100 to 1000 years to completely decompose in nature.
The main goal of this event is development of the relationship to environmental pollution of plastic waste and making items from already used plastic packaging.
Educational aim: Developing a report on environmental pollution of plastic waste, and training for active participation in the life of the local community.
Functional aim: Training for teamwork, developing communication skills necessary for collaborative behaviour, variery of attitudes and expression of opinion.
In the frame of professional development of teachers, we first contacted by phone a retired scientific adviser from “Vinča Institute for Nuclear Sciences”, Prof. Dr Stevan Jokić to visit our school and hold the workshop for teachers “La main à la pâte”, inquiry-based learning of scientific content from preschool to secondary level. After the workshop, I decided to organize with my students an activity related to the World Earth Day 2019.
The project is related to the World Earth Day 2019, it lasted 10 days and was divided into three phases:
I phase of the project: the students first photographed in the house and school what is all made of plastic to conclude how much plastic is present in everyday use, in every home, school, environment.
II phase of the project: the students then photographed the plastic scraps thrown on the street and out of buckets and containers in order to raise awareness about environmental conservation and then threw their scraps into buckets in the schoolyard and classroom.
They then made a presentation using the latest Microsoft Sway tool where they added pictures with a short description: hhttps://sway.office.com/MityGmJzhJX4NDXs?ref=Link
III phase of the project: the workshop of making items from used plastic packaging was organized, in order to prove that it is possible to use it several times in the everyday usage. So they made pencil holders and clamps, a vase for artificial flowers, a decoupage bottle and a decorative jewelry set. In the making of the items they used natural materials: paper, napkins, threads, rope, beads etc.
Our initiative relates to one of the goals of sustainable development set by the United Nations by 2030 (SDG goals). My students realized how much plastic is present in our lives, but also how dangerous it can be. They realized that it can be used several times and made new small items for everyday use by recycling old plastic packaging. The students were disciplined and creative during their work, dedicated to the task. The amateur video of a phone that was arranged in Movie Maker shows the creation of objects in class, as well as the presentation of final products.
The second focus of the initiative was also on solving the problem of student discipline through the use of ICT in teaching and creating interesting activities in class. Thus, the Civic Education becomes an interesting school subject that offers countless possibilities. It is a completely new approach to the teaching of Civic Education through developing the ability of critical thinking and making and sharing responsible decisions. Finally the items of my students were exhibited in the school hall, so that everyone interested (other students, teachers, parents, guests) could see them and find out more about their project.
Twenty three students have participated in the initiative directly. Our project was done in Civics classes, correlated with other subjects: Informatics, Arts, Biology and Social Studies. My students developed social, communicative and digital competences, critical thinking, problem-based-learning and also use of English. The lasting impact is the implementation of recycling workshops in other classes: Art, Chemistry, Biology (STEAM activities). We plan to expand our initiative to other schools, companies, partners from abroad who are dealing with this topic…
As a result of their developed consciousness for the preservation of the environment, my students collected plastic closures in the framework of the humanitarian action “Plug for Children’s Smile”, since in our class a student with cerebral paralysis is in a wheelchair. For the third consecutive year in our school, action has been conducted to collect plastic plugs for humanitarian purposes. The collected plugs are delivered to the association “the Spark”, and all the earned money will be donate to help children with disabilities in the acquisition of necessary funds.
My students have taken a very serious and conscious approach to the topic and implemented all the tasks related to the initiative. This is not just a mere reusing of plastic items, but the workshop was preceded by an awakening of consciousness among students regarding plastic waste (how much plastic is represented in our everyday life, how dangerous it is because it cannot be quickly destroyed, what could we do with it and how we could use it more than once). They worked with enthusiasm and want to continue promoting their project with other stakeholders.