A ResourceSmart School
Newham Primary School as recently committed to the ResourceSmart AuSSI Vic initiative, which helps schools achieve environmental and financial benefits by embedding sustainability in everything they do.
As part of signing-on to the ResourceSmart program, the school received a $10,000 grant to improve energy efficiency and make energy savings. We have used the funds to conduct an energy audit, fit self-closing doors, upgrade equipment in the kitchen and fit blinds on windows.
Sustainability will be a significant focus of the 2016-2019 Strategic Plan and we will be working each year to achieve the modules to become a 5-star ResourceSmart school. We are currently completing the Core module and we will be progressing next onto the Energy module.
In addition to the benefits to the school, focusing on sustainability will help to improve our community by equipping students with the knowledge and the tools that they need to be sustainable in their own homes and in their future lives.
Sustainability and Science
At Newham Primary School it is not uncommon to walk into a classroom to find a mushroom farm or an insect brought inside at the end of recess by an enthusiastic student.
In addition to the sustainability studies we are undertaking as part of the ResourceSmart modules, a key focus of the school’s environmental and science curriculum is to make use of the opportunity to study the environment at the back door. A specialist teacher takes students for weekly science lessons and the local environment is often featured in the students’ learning.
Living more sustainably has extended to the veggie patch which is now part of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program. Students have learned about constructing wicking garden beds, composting and when best to plant and harvest.
Partnering with Landcare
The Newham and District Landcare Group formed in 2004 and has had an association with the school since 2006. The group works to revegetate and rehabilitate land and promote sustainability in the community.
Working closely with the school has helped to showcase the work of Landcare, as well as improve the school environmentally and aesthetically.
Parents also work with Landcare to propagate indigenous seeds, which are then sold. Money from the sale of these plants is returned to the school for use on the grounds and for environmental excursions and presentations.
Long-Term Environmental Monitoring
A tributary of Deep Creek runs along one border of the school. Jenny Waugh, a retired science teacher and trained Waterwatch Monitor works with the school to assess the creek.
The program was started with the support of the Landcare group and the grade 5 and 6 students have been testing the water in the creek as part of the Waterwatch program for nearly 9 years.
Jenny describes the site as ideal, as the creek runs right past the school and the students can collect water without having to travel far. “Waterwatch testing is now embedded in the school’s program and it has been an excellent way to involve the school and younger members of the community in Landcare” Jenny said.
“The first thing the students learn is where their local creek and community fits into the landscape. Deep Creek is in the uppermost headwaters of the Maribyrnong River, so our testing provides the first set of data along the course of the river to Melbourne.”
Waterwatch also teaches students many scientific skills such as the accurate use and reading of scientific equipment, recording of scientific data and interpreting results.
Newham Primary School Principal, Julie Soutter said Waterwatch has been a very valuable program that has helped students to experience real-world learning. “I love seeing kids out here doing real science and using scientific equipment, it is good for the students’ understanding as well as being good for the creek,” Julie said.