Scoil Mhuire, Newtownforbes, Co. Longford, is made up of 20 teachers and over 350 children. From Junior Infants to 6th class, a child from each classroom is picked to be on the Green-Schools committee each year. The teachers are asked to pick a child in their class that shows an interest in the environment and who will pass on the Green Schools message to their classmates. The green code chosen for this theme was: The Seas and Oceans are full of pollution, Stop Littering, it’s the only solution’.
Once the committee was established, they carried out the marine litter awareness survey. Next, the whole school learned about marine litter and its sources. Some classes signed up to take part in the SeaKeepers Projects. During class time, students learned about the marine environment through art, science experiments, videos, and other activities. For example, junior infants made starfish art using salt, 2nd class learned about the life cycle of a turtle, 5th class learned about the characteristics of salt water, and 6th class investigated the links between the hydrosphere and people.
Monitoring & Evaluation
In year one, 65% of those surveyed had heard of marine litter, but in year two, 100% knew what it was. In year one, 57% could name three sources of marine litter. This increased to 97% in year two.
The committee also carried out a water bottle survey to monitor the use of reusable water bottles vs single-use water bottles in the school. In year one, 85% of children used reusable plastic bottles, and this increased to 98% in year two. The use of single-use bottles was almost eliminated!
Day of Action
The Day of Action was held on the 8th of June 2021 (World Oceans Day). All classes created projects, artwork, and 3D models on the day and put them in the hall on display. The whole school took part in a litter pick, each class in their designated yard. Students took part in an outdoor marine lesson where they drew sea creatures in chalk on the yard, using maths to measure the actual lengths (e.g. the blue whale is 29m long). Back in the classroom, students watched resource videos on the Green-Schools website. All pictures from the day were put up on each teacher’s online platform to communicate the message of the theme to the wider community. The children enjoyed the day and were more aware of changes that we all need to make for the future to protect the marine environment.
Informing & Involving
All Green Schools activities in school were photographed and shared with parents through classroom online platforms like ClassDojo or Seesaw. The intercom was used to make announcements of any planned Green-Schools activities for the students within the school. Regular litter pick-ups took place on the school grounds. There was noticeably less litter in the yard. Through monitoring and evaluating, the Green Schools committee could see that positive improvement were made and increased awareness of the theme was evident.
By the end of the theme, our hallway was extremely visual and sensory orientated for the younger children in particular. Some of the older children in the school had a very basic understanding of how a marine environment can be polluted but at the end of the theme knew the changes we can all make to reduce marine pollution. They could identify sources of marine pollution which they couldn’t fully at the start of the flag. Zara Greally, Green-Schools Coordinator