Brackendale Schoolyard Waste Inquiry

Team Brackendale

Brackendale Elementary
  • Grade 4
Photo Essay (3–10 images)

Community Coach(es): 

Minna Koskela-Wild

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Brackendale Schoolyard Waste Inquiry Project The following ideas have been generated by a small group of students using the guiding questions provided. An adult facilitated the conversation and scribed. Our team is called Team Brackendale and we are made up of two classes - a grade 4 and 5 class along with our little buddy class, who are in kindergarten and grade 1. The inspiration for our Green Games inquiry project started when a few students were searching for one of their younger siblings in the schoolyard after school one day. As they searched every corner of the schoolyard they were shocked by the amount of waste they came across. They approached their teacher and expressed their concern. We had already been learning about our ecological footprints and the impact that harmful human habits can have on the environment. The students asked, “can we clean up this garbage and can we tell the rest of the school how bad this is for the earth?” After a few class meetings, the students agreed that this should become our Green Games project. Earlier in the year we had a local environmental advocate visit the class. Her name is Minna Koskela-Wild from the organization Blue Mar 4 Change (https://www.facebook.com/BlueMar4Change/.) She helped us to video conference with 2 citizen scientists who were spending the winter in the Arctic in Norway as part of the Hearts in the Ice initiative (https://www.heartsintheice.com/.) They told us that microplastics were ending up in the ice all the way in the Arctic. We also did research to answer the question, “So What?” Why is plastic waste such a problem? We did research in the library and on the computers to learn more about the negative impact. Many students also remembered learning about how much waste ends up in the landfill and how much plastic ends up in our waterways when the Squamish Watershed Society visited our school. Our plan was to collect and categorize all of the waste that we could find in the schoolyard. We had a lot of snow this year in Squamish, which delayed our plans, but we loved playing in it! Once the snow melted, we got into small groups and each group was responsible for a certain section of the schoolyard. Each group shared their data with the rest of the class. Then we practiced our data analysis skills by making bar graphs. The bar graphs made it clear that plastic waste was a significant problem in our schoolyard. We began sharing our findings with other classes, starting with our little buddy class. They immediately began to pick up plastic during their recess and lunch. Students felt that we needed to do more to help. When asked the question, “Now what?”, the students continued their research to learn more about simple yet helpful habits that can reduce our plastic waste. They brainstormed ideas for how we could raise awareness in the school and the Brackendale community. Their goal was to significantly reduce the amount of plastic in our schoolyard by Earth Day. In order to measure the success of the project, students will do another schoolyard waste analysis in a few weeks, to see if the data shows a decrease in plastic waste. They will create double-graphs to compare the amount of plastic waste before and after our classroom presentations. This will help us to know how successful our project was.