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Primary Education News
News How to run a climate change fair at your school
Keen to learn more about the three Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle – Shabnam Chowdhury's students devised a school fair with a green theme
Last year the Science Museum threw us a challenge; to organise a mass participation event centred on climate change, and the brief said it had to be fun. So we gathered some students together, threw some ideas about and came up with the idea of holding a climate change fair; a project that was fun and exciting and that other students in the school could learn and respond to.
The planning began; what was it that we wanted to achieve with this project? What were the key messages we wanted to bring across? And most importantly what did we want our students to learn? The three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle, seemed very fitting and expressed the theme of our event well. The students now had to come up with stalls and activities that would encourage the pupils to use the three Rs.
Firstly, an eco fashion stall was decided upon. One of our students, Sadia, made a dress using old magazines which she showcased at the event; she even showed it to Prince Andrew when he visited the school. The students then took inspiration from Sadia's dress and came up with some of their own designs at the fair, using old magazines, newspapers and carrier bags.
Transport and fossil fuels was an issue the students wanted to tackle, so they researched what has so far been achieved in changing how we power vehicles. The boys decided on a stall where students would build their own balloon powered car and get chance to look at cars of the future. The students learned about electric cars and hydrogen powered buses and discussed what they thought the future of transport would be.
Plants seem an obvious solution to reducing carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere. It can sometimes be difficult in London to grow your own fruit and vegetables as space is at a premium; but we wanted to encourage the students to grow plants, so we helped them get started. We provided the plant pots, seeds and compost at the fair and so all the students had to do was plant the seeds, take them home and look after them and enjoy the spoils.
We offered salad leaves, carrots, tomatoes, broad beans, parsnips and more. This stall also taught students the significance of locally-sourced produce and how their families could support local farmers instead of always buying from the supermarket. They became aware of their carbon footprint and it helped to put into perspective just how much carbon dioxide one person can be responsible for.
Carbon footprints were also the thinking behind our food stall; let's face it a fair would not be a fair without a few cakes and bakes. We used a lot of fruit and carrots in our cakes and it was essential that it was all locally sourced, so I visited a few markets to source local ingredients for the baking. Not many students were aware of where most of their food comes from, some didn't even realise that it was stated on the packaging. So they have now all promised to read the label and encourage their parents to buy British produce when they can.
The students left the event with smiles, laughter, cake and plants. But they also left the event with a greater knowledge of climate change, what it is, why it is so important we pay attention to it, how their actions affect it and how their future actions can be part of the solution.
Shabnam Chowdhury teaches science at the St Paul's Way Trust School, east London. The school took part in the Science Museum's Climate Science Outreach Programme.