2. Developing responsible attitudes

From the previous work, pupils will have begun to realise that we need to think carefully about using non-renewable resources. We need to start thinking how we can act to become part of the solution to this problem and not just part of making the problem worse. It is good to get pupils involved in positive action that benefits the environment in some way.

In Case Study 2, a teacher encourages the pupils to go out into their own community and think about the impact of people on their environment. (If you try the same activity and don’t have coloured paper, you could divide to the wall into two areas.)

In Activity 2, we suggest your class researches, designs and carries out a long-term compost-making project. You can start by introducing the terms ‘biodegradable’ (rots away) and ‘non-biodegradable’ (doesn’t rot away) and explaining what causes rotting – bacteria. Pupils will be able to give you many examples of materials in each of these groups – this could be a brainstorm activity.

Later, you might want to go into income-generating production of compost, which would involve systems for safely collecting local compostable waste and its subsequent sale or use in a school vegetable garden.

Case Study 2: Evidence of local and regional pollution

Looking at living things around the school has made Mr Mwansa’s pupils care more about the animals and plants in their environment.

Now he tries to do the same thing with awareness of the impact of people on our natural world (see Resource 3: Waste disposal). He talks to them about the idea of the ‘human footprint’. They discuss and list the harmful and helpful things they can think of that are happening in the local area. Then, he sets them a challenge. The whole back wall of the classroom is cleared to make space for a wall ‘newspaper’. Pupils go out into their environment as ‘reporters’ and come back with information and evidence in the form of notes and drawings. Anything that they feel is harming or not helping the environment is colour-coded on light brown card/paper, and the good things are written up/displayed on green paper. A glance gives an overall impression of the local situation: – mostly brown = BAD; mostly green = GOOD.

The pupils find so much information that the display spills over onto the side walls. They come with information from the media (press, radio and TV) about their own country and continent as well as across the world. The colour-coded display grows daily and raises discussion, argument and, most importantly, the attitude of concern.

Activity 2: Doing something positive with waste – composting

Read Resource 4: Making compost, which explains one method to do this.

Tell your pupils they are going to do a project in which they will do something positive with waste – composting. First they need to do some research about composting in their community in groups. What are their ideas? Can they think of anyone in their community who could help them? Could they ask this expert to visit their classroom or could they visit this person? (See Key Resource: Using the local community/environment as a resource [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .)

Gather together all the ideas for making compost from pupils and their research. You might add some of the ideas from Resource 4.

Then ask pupils to think: How will they assess which ideas are best? Give time for each group to develop a list of criteria.

Share criteria from each group and, in a class discussion, decide which are the most important. Pupils should write these in their books.

Now you are ready to make the compost. Each group could try a different method or you could all try one method. Don’t forget to give pupils time to plan (listing their equipment) and evaluate against the class criteria.

Did your pupils enjoy working in this way?

1. Raising awareness of resources

3. Group work with a focus on recycling