Student Action for a Sustainable Future

The SASF 2018 Showcase took place on April 26, 2018 at the Western Development Museum.  We had the opportunity to attend the event as citizen e-journalists.  Grade 5-8 students from Saskatoon Catholic and Public School divisions shared the results of their inquiries into six areas: waster, water, energy food, transportation, and biodiversity.

At the start of the event, Elder Tim Eashappie spoke to those gathered about the importance of honouring our relationship to Mother Earth and offered a prayer for the event.  Student representatives from participating schools offered tobacco.

Then the event began.  There was a buzz of excitement as students shared their research with one another and with special guests, including Mayor Charlie Clark and Councilor Mairin Loewen.

Here are some of the inquiries we had the chance to learn about.

What is the power and responsibility of the individual to make a difference in the world?

Grade 8 students attending Pope John Paul II School worked through 6 inquiry projects based on water conservation, vermicomposting, and recycling to investigate the question: “What is the power and responsibility of the individual to make a difference in the world?”

Those that worked on conserving water in their school started with some difficulty when their air raiders had no effect, but found a better solution by changing the pressure of the taps and teaching the other grades how to properly wash their hands. Before they taught the other grades on hand-washing, they let them try normally. Then, when they showed them how to properly do it, they cut the water use down to half. Their message wasn’t very well seen throughout the school, but they hope to continue working towards using less water in the future.

Another group in their class decided to start vermicomposting in their classroom. Vermicomposting is when you have different species of worms in a bin along with some newspaper bedding and various types of fruit peels, vegetables, and coffee grounds (but absolutely no dairy or meat!) By putting these bins in some of the classrooms in their school, they were able to reduce waste by 31%! Pope John Paul II School has a very bright set of students who will be able to take this knowledge on with them to educate others and create change in their communities.

Why erase waste?

As a society, we are quite destructive in the way we treat our planet. Grade 6/7 students at St. Nicholas Catholic School noticed this and chose to explore the question “Why erase waste?” through six inquiry projects.

One team of students worked on spreading information on why converting to solar power would be a good idea, because it is more efficient.  They discovered that, although it may cost more up-front, it pays off in the long run. These students have gathered lots of interest from other people and think that solar power could be implemented within Canada in the next coming years. They hope to continue spreading their message because the Earth is important, and we need to find new resources before we hit a dead end and run out of the resources we’re already using.

A second group took a different approach on how to reduce waste and focused on waste- free lunches. They discovered that all the plastic and trash were costing lots of money.  Also, we are running out of space on our planet to put all of our garbage, which is what inspired them to make change in their school. They spoke to many classes in their school about how bringing reusable plastic containers could help reduce waste.  They taught their peers about what can be recycled and how to recycle it. By the end, they had gone from having 45 pounds of waste to only 21! The group hopes that their message continues to spread so they can become a waste-free school.

All groups deepened their knowledge on their topics by writing expository essays, persuasive letters to their parents, and making presentations to other classes in the school. The students agreed that these writing pieces helped them to learn a lot more about these issues.   It’s quite fascinating that just a couple quick Google searches can really open up your eyes on how wasteful we really are. The students were all very inspired by what they learned and plan to continue working towards their goals.

If you’d like to learn more about SASF, you can visit their website at: http://environmentalsociety.ca/programs/k-12-school-programs/sasf/

By: NATALIE VANIDOUR