Making nesting boxes for birds, compost bins for turning kitchen waste into plant food, looking after beehives and collecting honey… Those are all subjects you can study on the curriculum at Saint Joseph’s College in Dijon in France.
It’s part of the international eco-schools programme. Pupils don’t just learn about environmental problems in the classroom – they get involved in coming up with solutions that can make the whole school more planet-friendly, by cutting waste, using less energy and so on.
Come and meet 12- and 13-year-olds Kevin, Margaux, Mila and Rémi, who can tell us more:
Today, we’re making washing sponges with leftover bits of cloth. It’s a way of stopping waste because we can use things like an old T-shirt that’s full of holes and instead of putting it in the bin, we can make tawashis with it.Rémi, a pupil at Saint Joseph's College, Dijon
And if you’re wondering what on earth a “tawashi” is, well it’s for washing the dishes and it comes from Japan. Tawashi-making is on the school timetable at Saint Joseph’s.
Big problems, little me...
Here’s how Mrs Fetison, the geography teacher, explains the big idea:
Recycling to train dogs
At home, I recycle paper and cardboard and it’s really important for me to be able to do that at school, too.Mila, a pupil at Saint Joseph's College, Dijon
Pupils at Saint Joseph’s have set up recycling bins in the classrooms for paper, batteries, markers and pens. And they see real benefits too.
Money raised from recycling in the school goes to train dogs to help handicapped people, to bring water and electricity to villages in Africa and to other charities.
Everyone gets involved – not just the kids but the teachers, the dinner ladies, janitors and even the parents. There have been all sorts of projects in the past few years, often designed to protect biodiversity – all the different animals and plants.
This year, the theme has been energy. Pupils had to design their own “ideal town” and build models to show how they could design things like more bike paths, more parks and ways to save electricity.
War on waste!
The kids put up signs in classrooms reminding people not to the lights and heating – though Rémi admits things are still not perfect, even in an eco-school!
We’re still not totally eco-friendly at the school, because people leave lights on, or the heating stays on when we open the windows…Rémi, a pupil at Saint Joseph's College, Dijon
Putting maths into practice
Every little action helps though! And what kids learn about ecology they put to good use in classroom subjects like science, geography, even maths. Yes that right, maths – to build those bird feeders, a bit of geometry helps!
We did this as part of a lesson in class. We recycled a bottle and fixed on little saucers… And you can fill it with seeds for the birds to eat. I’ve got two at home and I love to see lots more different birds coming. But you can’t put them too close to the windows, otherwise they don’t come.Margaux, a pupil at Saint Joseph's College, Dijon
Get to know the locals
The school’s lucky to have big grounds where pupils can get out into nature. One project uses a smartphone app to help them identify the local birds.
This is a bird feeder that we put on a pine branch. We put in sunflower seeds to attract the birds so we can watch them.
We get to know our local birds and we feed them to keep them healthy and protect our biodiversity.Kevin, a pupil at Saint Joseph's College, Dijon
Over to you!
So, how do YOU fancy going to eco-school?
There are lots of initiatives wherever you live, so maybe after you get back from a refreshing Easter holiday have a word with your parents and teachers and see what you can do in your school.
And don’t forget to let us know how you get on!