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Exploring Preferred Futures for Marine and Coastal Environments

Sample Unit Sequence and Activity Ideas: Inquiry Learning


Taking Action: Sample Activities



Doing Something
Encourage students to choose one local issue associated with living more sustainably or reducing carbon pollution and greenhouse gases that are emitted. Read the information in the media, utilise the fact sheet available at
and research the internet for additional ideas. As a class, brainstorm possible solutions and talk about why something should be done about each of these issues. Discuss what the class can do.

Suggestions might include:

• Raising public awareness by speaking at school assembly, writing an article for the school newsletter, or writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper.
• Developing stickers, pamphlets or an action-chart showing how students and their families can contribute.
• Writing to Members of Parliament, Government Departments and Environmental Agencies about issues that concern them.
• Develop a sustainable living guide for your local area.
• Take action in their own homes and daily lives to reduce emission of toxic substances.

Take Action at School and Home
Tackle a specific crabon pollution or greenhouse gas emission that has been found to be of interest in your local are or state/territory. Record responses to the following questions:

• Are you particularly concerned about a specific issue and want to take action?
• Is something happening in the local area or state/territory that you would like to change?
• Are there any groups that are already working on the issue?
• Is there a particular aspect of the issue that you think would be appropriate for a group to work on?
• What can be found out about the issue?

Audit the issue
Gather and record important information about the issue. Find out about others in the school, families or organisations in your local area or state/territory that are working on or participate in similar issues to yours.

Identify the problems, identify the causes of the issue, and start to address the causes of the problem. If litter is a real problem, consider the reasons for the litter existing in the first place and monitor where the litter is coming from. Is it from school students or does litter blow in from a neighbouring area? Are passing cars the source of the litter?

Identify the solutions
Get involved to actively change things at school, at home or in the community. Consider the following activities to improve water quality:

• Maintaining stormwater drains. Keeping them free of litter, leaves and dirt.
• Covering and storing rubbish in areas where it cannot contaminate or pollute stormwater drains during rain.
• Collecting fallen leaves and composting them in mulch gardens.
• Cleaning all outdoor surfaces using a broom, vacuum or shovel (do not hose or blow them).
• Handling all materials carefully to prevent spills.
• Keeping storage containers well away from stormwater drains and in properly covered and bundled areas.
• Marking school and nearby stormwater drains with a suitable signs such as ‘This drain leads to the Sea’.
• Creating and placing signs around the school and surrounding areas to remind others of ways to avoid pollution in the school and local area.
• Participating in local Waterwatch programs to help monitor the water quality in your local waterway.
• Visiting local waterways and testing the water quality.
• Checking the edge vegetation of local waterways for pollution. Cleaning up areas regularly. Looking for weeds and eradicating them.
• Conducting a water quality awareness program within the school community.
• Placing articles about water quality in the school newsletter and sharing ideas to reduce pollution in local waterways and the ocean.
• Organising a display about the school’s water quality program in the local shopping centre.
• Developing an education program about water quality that will be useful in your school community.

Consider the following activities to reduce litter reduce waste and recycle:

• Identifying ‘hot spots’ where litter is most likely to cause environmental impacts. Considering quantities of litter and the effects of different types of litter (e.g. plastics, food wastes or glass) on the local environment and the animals and people who live there. Identifying those who use the ‘hot spots’. Working with the school community, especially those who use the ‘hot spots’, to develop ways to reduce litter.
• Surveying where litter is most often dropped by students at school. Making recommendations to the Student Representative Council. E.g. where bins might be best placed and why etc.
• Ensuring enough litterbins are placed around the school.
• Making presentations at school assembly on why litter is a problem for the local area.
• Painting bins in attractive colours with designs to encourage students to put litter in them.
• Setting up separate recycling bins for cans, glass, plastics and paper (check to see what can be recycled in your area).
• Collecting food scraps and setting up a worm farm for recycling organic waste. Using the resulting compost and worm castings in the school gardens.
• Collecting useful items to reuse in art, craft and technology, e.g. paper, card, material cut-offs, wool, and ice cream containers.
• Developing school policies about double-sided photocopying, paper use and reuse re-inking cartridges and composting/worm farming of organic waste.
• Developing an education program about litter and waste reduction and recycling for use in your school community.

Consider the following activities to reduce emissions from traffic:

• Conducting an audit of how students and staff travel to the school.
• Engaging in Travel Smart programs for schools.
• Walking or cycling to school regularly if you live close enough.
• Catch school buses or other public transport to school
• Encouraging staff and students to share lifts if they have to use a car to get to school.

Consider the following activities to conserve water:

• Conducting a water audit of the school.
• Monitoring water usage in the school.
• If any taps, drinking fountains, fire hydrants or sprinkler systems are leaking, inform the school administration team.
• Mulching gardens to reduce water loss to evaporation.
• Installing flow control devices to reduce the amount of water flowing from the tap.
• Using a landscape design to reduce the consumption of resources e.g. planting shade trees near buildings, adding mulch to garden beds, or installing drip irrigation.
• Working with the local school community and relevant outside organisations to develop ideas for saving water in the school.
• Putting water conservation signs in the toilets, urinals, hand basins, sinks, showers and any other water outlets in and around school buildings.
• Developing an education program that will be useful in your school community to reduce water use.

Consider the following activities to conserve energy:

• Conducting an energy audit at the school.
• Reducing energy by becoming more aware of where energy is used and taking steps to ensure that fans, lights and electrical appliances are turned off when not in use.
• Identifying areas of energy savings at the school.
• Replacing or supplementing the school’s energy supply with renewable energy sources such as GreenPower, solar hot water, photovoltaics, ground source heat pumps etc.
• Developing school policies about air conditioning & heating , use of occupancy detectors or clockwork time delays, use of natural lighting, use of reduction strategies, such as turning appliances off overnight, weekends and holidays, installation of skylights, installation of energy efficient globes, installation of 4-5A star rated appliances etc.
• Using natural lighting whenever and wherever possible.
• Developing ways to reduce electricity used in the school and encourage people to contribute ideas on energy conservation.
• Searching out information and resources that will be useful in your school community to save energy.
• Developing an education program that will be useful in your school community to reduce energy.

Consider the following activities to ensure appropriate chemical disposal:

• When using chemicals it is imperative that none are washed into grassed or soil areas, gardens, storm water drains or gullies that connect to waterways or beaches.
• Disposing of all chemicals and containers in accordance with the instructions on the container or contact your local council’s waste disposal section.
• Locating, identifying and listing all chemicals used in the school. Assessing each for its contribution to the environment and health of the waterways or the ocean.
• Not disposing chemicals down the drain.
• Taking care not to spill fuel when filling vehicles or changing oil.
• Using biodegradable chlorine-free toilet paper and phosphate-free cleaning products.

Consider the following action projects to minimise plastic bags:

• Saying NO to plastic bags when you go shopping
• Taking reusable bags and use them at every shop, not just at the supermarket
• Encouraging the community to switch to an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic
• Designing interactive displays, promotional give-aways and a bag swap
• Becoming an entirely plastic bag free school
• Undertaking beach clean ups and recycling all plastic appropriately
• Being responsible with plastic litter disposal
• Never throwing plastic into the ocean, rivers or waterways where it can harm marine life
• Using biodegradable fishing equipment and bait bags
• Taking your waste items home from outings with you
• Working with others in your community to educate the community on marine debris and how they can help avoid it .

Set the goals for a project to address an emission that affects the school or its community and develop an action plan. Some of the things needed might include:

• Forming a management team to undertake activities
• Defining roles and responsibilities
• Designing and establishing a feedback loop for project progress and effectiveness of the team
• Designing the project budget
• Designing the project timeline
• Setting up a project diary, planning for celebrations at each milestone, taking into account factors likely to affect progress, allocating time for regular reviews of progress, etc.
• Promoting the project and consulting widely
• Establishing sources of support and a support network
• Setting up photo points for monitoring. By taking a photo at the same point each time, you can see the changes over time
• Monitoring and evaluating the action plan over time.

Reflection: Sample Activities
Ask students to complete a self-assessment and reflection activity using the following questions:

• What is the most important thing I have learned about carbon pollution and greenhouse gases that are emitted and actions that can reduce impacts on the marine and coastal environment?
• What is one thing I have learned about myself, and how I might help to improve the way I can reduce my impact on the marine and coastal environment for the benefit of current and future generations?
• What have I learnt about how to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that can affect animals and plants within marine and coastal environments?
• What would I still like to find out about living more sustainably?
• What piece of work am I most satisfied with?

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