Primary school ‘power rangers’ lead the way in sustainability

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(ABC Radio Canberra: Penny Travers) ABC Radio Canberra


Penny Travers


March 23, 2017 11:06:48

Year three student Toni Kuss demonstrates how to use the recycling stations that are in each classroom.
Each lunch break at Maribyrnong Primary School in Canberra, students donning capes and masks give up their play time to help save the environment.These “power rangers” investigate each classroom to see if any lights, monitors or electronic whiteboards have been left on. “Again, incredible improvements; I go around now and I’m lucky to find any cling wrap in a class.”

Year four students Kaleb Baldry and Riley Gray check out the school’s compost bin. “It’s been incredibly successful,” specialist science teacher Leslie Carr said. (ABC Radio Canberra: Penny Travers)
The school has more than 430 students and all of them, from preschool to year six, are involved in the sustainability initiatives.”It’s everyone’s business, and more than just the school, it’s the community as well; it’s bringing people along and getting everyone involved,” Ms Howard said.”Science affects every part of our lifestyle [and] in relation to the environment, it’s absolutely crucial that we work on sustainability practices with our students so they do long-term look after our planet and are able to nurture future generations to do so.” (ABC Radio Canberra: Penny Travers)
Saving on power billsRainwater is collected and used for flushing toilets and the school also has solar panels.And all the energy-saving measures are paying dividends.”Simple things like replacing the lighting with LED lighting long-term has quite an impact on our energy consumption and in turn then allows us to allocate funding to other things other than bills like learning programs,” principal Jennifer Howard said. “It really gives the kids ownership of our energy consumption at the school.”It’s making them aware that every little action that we do has an effect on our environment, and it’s their environment, they’re growing up in it, and they’ve got to teach the grown-ups how to look after it too.”Waste-free WednesdaysAs well as leading the way in power-saving measures, the school also has a worm farm, compost bin, vegetable garden, bee hotel, bird boxes and recycling bin stations.”We have a waste-free Wednesday program where we say no waste from your lunches, so no cling wrap, try not to have any chip packets, that sort of stuff,” Ms Carr said. “We go around and if their lights and computer monitors are on we give them a sticker that’s called an energy mite, and we give them rainbows if the lights and monitors are off,” year four student Aiden Barinton said.”At the end of each month, the class with the most rainbows gets an award.”

Year three students Lucy Thorpe and Willow Florian dressed as “power rangers” as they turn off monitors and lights. (ABC Radio Canberra: Penny Travers)
The program is one of the many initiatives the school started to achieve its five-star energy accreditation from Actsmart Schools. Photo:
The school’s “power rangers” give up some of their play time to check lights and monitors are switched off.