Teacher: Ira Tuba, “Savremena” primary and secondary school – Belgrade, Serbia
Environmental protection is not an overly interesting area for children. But, through the application of various modern technologies it could be. This post will be about implementing STEM subjects in order to make students aware of the problems of recycling and waste disposal. The topic is divided into four sessions. Each session aimed to help students acquire new knowledge in an innovative and creative way and, also, encourage them to educate others in their surrounding about the importance of recycling.
This scenario was implemented live in our school, but is also suitable for online teaching. Fifteen students ages 10-11 participated in this project. Their prior knowledge of this topic was very superficial. They never dealt with this subject in school. Everything they knew they heard on television or from their parents. Therefore, they weren’t sure if the information they had was accurate.
The first lesson took place on April 1st. In that class, students were introduced to the concept of recycling and the impact of waste on the environment. They shared their experiences related to waste and recycling with the class and commented on them. At the end of this lesson we suggested that they use their social media to send a message to the world about the importance of recycling. Our students really liked that, and I think any students would. The idea of using their social media for school is very exciting for them.
The next class took place on April 8th. It was all about the impact that irresponsible garbage disposal has on the environment. We played a video for students about plastic bottles that shocked them quite a bit. After watching that video they were surprised with some facts about the impact that waste has on our health. That motivated them to be even more creative in designing promotional posters about recycling. They were very happy to place them around the school to always remind us to protect the planet and thus our health. This is some of their work.
The subject of the 3rd class, that took place on April 19th, is economic benefits of recycling. After learning what a circular economy is and why it is needed, we gave them a research task. They needed to find out how different countries stimulate the growth of the circular economy. For this task they had to apply their technological and information literacy, as well as critical thinking. These are all 21st century skills they will need in their future careers. Students like to be in the role of researchers and to find the necessary information on their own using technology. Therefore, this task was very interesting for them. I think this is a great way to stimulate students to actively participate in class.
Highlight of the scenario
The last session, which took place on April 27th, was the most interesting to the students. The joint creation of an interactive panel was the first part of the class. On that panel were placed interesting facts about recycling. During this task, the students were very productive and engaged. They enjoyed group work.
In the second part of the class, they made digital picture books that will be material for educating younger students of our school. There are a lot of foreign students in our school. As a result, we were able to make picture books in 4 languages (Serbian, English, French and German). It meant a lot to the children that they were given the opportunity to be in the role of the authors of the educational material.
We think that this learning scenario went very well with the students. It was interesting to them and instructive. Above all, they understood how important it is to combine different subjects to solve a real-life problems. They have developed an awareness of the importance of preserving natural resources through recycling. Also, they have learned how they can contribute to it. In conclusion, we made this “boring” topic very interesting to them, so they were eager to learn as much as possible.
The cooperation between the teachers was excellent. We learned a lot from each other. We plan to continue to work together as often as possible as we have concluded that together we can do much more for our students.