Posts Tagged ‘school’

getting creative with shared resources ..

October 26, 2011

Sustainability and environmental education

Recently we were invited to join Se-ed’s National Sustainable Schools Conference at London Zoo to run a workshop around “how schools can become more sustainable and creative with shared resources.” Delegates at the conference included teachers and representatives from primary and secondary schools as well as students of sustainability and staff from local councils.

Through our workshop, we used a series of games and co-creation techniques, to inspire the attendees to think differently about the resources around them and spark new opportunities that shared resources can bring for them and their school.

Alongside describing how Ecomodo delivers new opportunities for schools to fundraise and get equipped through shared resource, we encouraged participants to consider the value of sharing both economically and environmentally, why re-use and collaborative consumption are so important in a the broader context of sustainability; and how schools can act as a catalyst to spread good behaviour throughout their community.

For the session we asked the group to think about how ecomodo can work, not just in the context of their school community, but across all the different communities they as individuals belong to (their neighbourhood, friends, family, clubs etc). We wanted to broaden their thinking to “what local shared resources means” as well as instill the idea that through adopting a new behaviour within one community it enables it to easily spread to others.

Our first game was to uncover the assets of each individual in the room. We asked them to put on the wall at least 3 assets (everyday goods, skills or spaces) they might lend as well as something they may like to borrow. Quickly making these assets visible using post-its immediately gave rise to impromptu discussions around what people could do – even if they just had access to the items on the wall.

“Oh a shredder – now that would be useful”

Next, with a couple of volunteers, we played some further games to show how using Ecomodo to build a community and make resources you’re willing to share visible, can spark a whole host of new opportunities for different activities.

Near the end of the session, we asked the participants to put their “school community” hat on and break out into smaller groups to brainstorm this question:

“If we only had .. we could ..”

We wanted them to conjure up new types of projects to engage students, using action based learning, purely inspired through utilising borrowed assets.

And here are some of the ideas that came out of the session:

• Night vision equipment for a project to understand local wildlife to see what comes through the school at night.

• Gardening equipment to understand food and growing

• Costumes & props to re-enact moments in history

• Outside spaces to use as a different space from the classroom

• Specimens from zoos for biology projects & African artefacts for cultural projects

• Sewing machines to learn about recycling and upcycling

• Meteorological equipment for geography and learning about the weather

• Solar panels & wind turbines for science and energy projects

And lots of skills including: willow weaving, story tellers, drivers with transport, singing workshops, artists & craft

We will be shortly running this workshop again at Se-ed’s National Sustainable Schools Conference second event in Leicester on 30 November.


Click here to find more information about how schools can use Ecomodo to fundraise, get equipped and save money and share resources with other schools locally.


‘green’ dragon’s den ..

May 10, 2011

On my journey to Northwood College, North London, I had a wee trip down memory lane as my train passed Harrow College (now The University of Westminster), where Meriel and I first met. Extremely honoured to be asked to participate as a ‘green’ dragon at Northwood College, it felt strangely apt to be passing by my old college where my design career started – en route to judge the pupil’s designs and innovations.

Over the past few years, Jane Simister, Director of the school’s Cognitive Development Programme, has organised the INVENT competition and this year decided to give it an environmental twist. It’s just one of the ways in which the school seeks innovative ways of transforming how teachers teach and learners learn.  Their aim is to tackle the problem of passive thinking that so often comes from an over-emphasis on grades and to address issues that can sometimes hold girls back from achieving their full potential.

Jane Simister says “Through the INVENT competition, we’re trying to encourage our girls to see, from an early age, that they can play an active part in transforming the world around them. This year, we thought we’d try something new and adopt an environmental theme, making it a ‘Green Dragons’ Den’.  This raises the challenge, but I have my fingers crossed that the girls will come up with some ingenious ideas!”

On arriving at the school I was promptly mic’d up and alongside Charlie Brown, IKEA‘s UK Corporate Environment Manager, Victoria Atherstone, CEO of Love2scoot and Jane Langley Director of Cool it World, took my seat on stage as proceedings began.

First up, were 10 projects from the junior girls, followed by the 5 senior entrants. Just like the TV series, our role as dragons was to hear a 2-minute pitch from each team and then quiz the girls about their innovations. Completely unperturbed they confidently and concisely answered our questions: How they came up with the idea; Whether they knew of any similar inventions already out there; Who their potential customers might be; and of course why their idea was ‘green’.

With being in the business of preventing waste through inspiring communities to share, my focus was to spot simple ideas that either had the potential to augment an existing product, or that had multiple applications or uses. I’m so pleased there were many to choose from.

The extremely high standard of the ideas and entertaining presentations made it difficult to choose overall winners. I found it incredible that during our ‘secret’ dragon discussions to name the winner, not only were we talking about how engaging and thorough the pitches were, we were also throwing around comments about market opportunities and patent potential. But we had to make a decision.

The winners with four dragons ..

From the juniors, the first place was awarded to the youngest entrants, Maya Patel and Anya Sumaria from Year 3, who designed G-Power: an ingenious way to generate wind power, by using fans in the grills of cars, that could also be fixed to houses, lamp posts and a whole host of other things! Runners-up were Nicole Li and Serena Hart (stepping in for Shreya Malhotra) from Year 4, with their ‘Solar Beach Parasol’ – a fantastic gadget that uses solar energy to provide the electricity to charge cameras, laptops and MP3 players.

From the seniors, the first place went to Nikkita Mitchell in Year 11, for ‘Aquarius’, an innovative device to help families in less developed countries gather and filter the water that they need. Runners-up were Jenny Spencer and Priti Swamy from Year 8, whose ‘Chip ‘n’ Plant’ technology could be just what gardeners and farmers have been waiting for to help you ‘grow your own’.

The winners next stop is to present their pitch to IKEA, then on to the Houses of Parliament! Is there no stopping them?

I think all of the girls that participated should be congratulated as in my eyes as they are all winners. It’s not easy to come up with a new idea; yet they all succeeded to bring together coherent and well-thought through stories and to articulate their individual ideas through such delightful presentations. Many of the innovations had real market potential but in the end we had to be strict with the ‘green’ credentials. I do feel however a special mention needs to go to two other projects: Switch’n’sense (a fun reminder to switch your lights off) and The multi-drip (a tactile, gestural tap to save water) as they were also big favourites with the Dragons but we had a limited amount of prizes to award.

I’d like to thank Jane and the other teachers at Northwood college for an fantastic evening. It’s great to see your hard work paying off with such amazing talent coming out of Northwood College – well done!

Images borrowed from: Northwood College

westminster’s new eco-apprentices ..

November 18, 2010

As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2010, Ecomodo was invited by Westminster City Council to participate in the “Eco-bag Enterprise Challenge” at Westminster City Boys School. The purpose of the event was to challenge the students of Year 8, to think about sustainability both in terms of the environment and a business – not an easy task.

In true “Apprentice” style and in teams of 4 – 5 boys, their challenge was to create an eco-friendly bag company and produce a new design for a reusable bag. Given a budget of up to £300 the students had to: understand why reusable bags were important; choose team roles for each member of the group; understand and describe their target customer; and work out their finances to deliver the design they wanted within budget. On top of this, the boys had to deliver a pitch back to the class with the best ‘company’ winning a prize – for boys aged 12-13 – the stakes were high.

The day commenced with a talks from our hosts (the Westminster Education Business Partnership) who outlined the activities of the challenge and Corinne Dickinson from Waste Watch who gave the students insights into the environmental issues surrounding plastic bags on which theys were to be quizzed. Corinne also mentioned that “plastic bags are only for 12 minutes of their lifetime” – the same as a drill I thought.

We then split into groups and as a “business mentor”, I was given a team to work with who called their company “Stars in the Making” – and they certainly were.

Whilst talking about plastic bags and shopping they made an observation that sports shops, unlike supermarkets, were still quite happily giving plastic bags to customers. So they focused their idea around a reusable sports bag that was purchased alongside goods from sporting outlets. Aimed at teenaged boys to young men and promoting becoming a “star” of sport, the bag could then be reused by the customer every time they went to the gym or played football. At the end of the day, the whole bag, including dirty sports gear (minus shoes), could be thrown in the washing machine to be cleaned and ready to reuse.

During the pitches, I was thoroughly amazed at the creativity of the students who alongside the re-usable sports bag, came up with reusable bags for christmas and wonderful slogans like “Save tomorrow today”.

Alongside Corinne from Waste Watch and myself, other business mentors volunteered their time from: Loop,, SEED, Healthy Planet, The Do Nation and we all had a truly inspired time at Westminster City School.

For me, this initiative from Westminster City Council, brings together the big issues that face our society today; how do we live environmentally within our means, re-build our economy and create business that are sustainable in every sense of the word. To educate and focus these young minds on the problems of today – can only help to provide us with young, smart, eco-minded entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

beyond recycling ..

July 12, 2010

Mrs Gill Hickman, a teacher from Ringwood School school in Hampshire initiated a fantastic one day event for local students from four secondary schools to learn how to go ‘beyond recycling’. When invited, Ecomodo was more than delighted to join in the fun and impart a little re-use wisdom along the way.

The purpose of the day was to further the environmental sustainability agenda for each participating school and build awareness of initiatives in sustainability beyond the educational community.

In true Ecomodo fashion, The New Forest District Council lent out space at Appletree Court to host the event and gave terrific support to the organising teachers and staff to pull-off a thought-provoking event for students and staff alike.

Launched by Alan Lovell, the Present Hampshire High Sheriff, with his illustrated lecture on Al Gore’s ‘An inconvenient Truth’, the day continued with talks and activities from contributors including 10:10, Southampton University and Footprint Friends.

I talked to students about embodied carbon and waste prevention (through borrowing instead of buying) but I think they were more excited by the ability to get their hands on some extra Wii controllers, to test drive a bicycle or play with an ipad just for the weekend.

Ecomodo was part of the ‘Beyond Recycling’ marketplace and were amongst good friends such as: the New Forest Food Challenge, an NF Transition Town initiative; the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust creating seed pots with students to grow wild flowers; the New Forest National Park talking about climate change; the Hampshire Coppice Craftsmans Group demonstrating some wonderful wood carving and The Portsmouth Sustainable Energy and Climate Change centre discussing renewable energies in the home.

Students attended from Ringwood, Priestlands, Mountbatten and Hounsdown Schools and regardless of the heat went home with lots new to think about. I’m looking forward to checking out their school reports.

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