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Students hands on classroom plants

Vision

As our South Slope Elementary School is based in an urban, metropolitan environment at Metrotown in Burnaby, we are surrounded by high rise buildings and little room for nature. Not many of our grade 7 students who live here, are aware that a green environment can make a difference to their everyday lives. That indoor vegetation can be part of their green environment as well, is new to most of these students.

Therefore, we are convinced that teaching our grade 7 students about the positive effects of indoor vegetation in their living spaces, raises their awareness on the importance of a healthy indoor environment. That indoor vegetation can reduce physical and mental issues. And that this leads to reduction in cost of healing physical and mental issues. Especially this year with covid-19 this reduction is helpful to remain safe and strong.

To create this awareness, we initiated a small step, on a small scale: by adding plants to their everyday habitat, their classrooms. This small step in teaching our students about the value of indoor vegetation can lead to bigger steps in their futures, when they understand the need of a healthy indoor environment.

We believe that our grade 7 students learn about the added value of living vegetations in the places where they learn, work and live. When our students leave our school, they will be able to carry on their gained knowledge on environmental, social and economic aspects into high school, and hopefully into their futures and that of others. Only then, we consider our project a success.

EcoLeague Action Project Funding came as a true gift in helping us funding our Student Hands for Classroom Plants Project. We are not able to run it without external resources. Your decision on a ‘go’ for our project made a full grade 7 class enormously proud and honored! As we had to postpone our project due to covid 19, we got new grade 7 students. These students were proud to take over this responsibility.

Action

“Student Hands for Classroom Plants”

This is the title of our grade 7 Action Project on getting Classroom Plants.

As indoor vegetation is so unknown to our students, we saw the need of teach them on the positive effects. With plants in our two grade 7 classrooms, we improved both the awareness and the wellbeing of our grade 7 students and teachers:
– The air quality in the classroom improves as a selection of tropical plants take away toxic air which is proven by NASA research
– The stress level can decrease by the impact of plants which may help the students during this pandemic
– The responsibility of caring for vegetation increases
– The knowledge on long term effects of a healthy indoor environment raises amongst our students (see item below on the economic improvement on the long term)

Economic improvement on the long term:
In our class, the item on long term effects got specific attention. Students learned that better air quality can reduce sicknesses like colds, pneumonia and respiratory infections. And now with Covid-19, air quality is of major importance. That it therefore reduces the costs in healthcare and reduces the costs in companies on sick leaves. They also learned that plants can lower stress levels, which also leads to healthier, happy people, resulting in lower healthcare costs and company costs.

Our Action Project was be fully run by a grade 7 Student Committee, named Project Team Student Hands for Classroom Plants. This way we made full usage of all learning aspects that our students will face in real life projects. They were involved in the activities in specific roles and responsibilities.

The plants the students decided on for the two specific classrooms need to meet the following requirements:
– low maintenance
– grow in a classroom with little sunlight
– grow with little amounts of water
– air purifying plants

Environmental, economic and physical benefits in our community:
To stimulate our local economy, we purchased the plants at our local garden center Mandeville Gardenworks. The staff was wonderful and helped us potting all the plants. The intention was to have a fieldtrip to Mandeville, but due to the Covid-19 restrictions, we were only able to send one student and parent to get the plants.

Social interaction:
As Students worked together on shared living species in class which requires responsibility and care, this strengthened the relationships between our students in the classroom.

Reflection & Celebration

It was fascinating to see what the students found important about the project and plants. They wanted more small plants rather than big plants so everyone could have a plant at their (shared) tables. This was an eyeopener to the teachers.

The highlight of the project was definitely the joy and enthusiasm of the students when the plants and pots arrived in school. They all choose their plant and put their name on it. Some students took the plant outside to show their parents as they are not allowed to come into the classroom.

We have informed the local news on our project and the fact that we won the grant with Eco League. Unfortunately they have responded to our email and calls (yet).

We also have had a wonderful time at Mandevill Gardenworks with the staff that was very much willing to inform us on the plants we needed and what would be good and bad choices. They have potted all plants for the students, so they did not have to do that in class. It safed the teachers a lot of work and mess.

13. Climate Action
3. Good Health and Well-Being
17. Partnerships for the Goals
4. Quality Education
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
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