##The Hollies Centre for Practical Sustainability worked with 8 Primary Schools
in West Cork between February and June 2006. The project was funded by
West Cork LEADER. The following report was published after completing the
pilot project.

##’‘Sustainability Module’ Report
#”Living with One Planet”

    1 Introduction
    2 Aims
    3 Activities

a) First classroom visit
b) Second visit
c) Day at The Hollies Centre

    4 Evaluation (including feedback from Teachers)

**1 Introduction**

Between 20 February and 20 June 2006, Louise Rooney of Transition Design, Kinsale and Thomas Riedmuller of The Hollies Centre for Practical Sustainability visited 8 classes twice on half day visits in their schools and facilitated a full day visit at The Hollies Centre for Practical Sustainability, near Enniskeane (with the assistance of Ulrike Riedmuller and several students from the Practical Sustainability Course at Kinsale Further Education College).
The package was designed for 4th to 6th class students and to be a useful follow up for the Green Schools program. It addresses various areas of the National School Curriculum (such as Science, Ecology, Arts, and Social Skills) in a holistic and cross-curricular way.
Before Christmas 2005, the following National Schools in the vicinity of The Hollies Centre were identified and included in the Project:

– Newcestown
– Desertserges
– Baile Muine
– St. Mary’s Enniskeane
– Coppeen
– Cilmin
– Renascreena
– Kilcolman

In order to make a profound impact on the students in spite of the relatively short contact time, and to make it manageable for us, we structured the 2 visits in such a way that we had 2 schools per day, each of them receiving a 2-hour and a 3-hour visit and that there was generally a 2 week period between both visits and a longer period between the second classroom visit and the day out at The Hollies. Our preferred teaching method was a highly interactive and child-centred workshop style with a variety of activities in a circle and in small groups rather than lecturing.

**2 Aims of this module**

This Pilot Project for 8 Primary Schools in West Cork was geared towards raising awareness (in children and their families) for

• our dependence on the dwindling resource ‘oil’ (and other fossil resources) in all aspects of modern life
• solutions, such as renewable energy, energy saving, change of energy intensive habits, growing food locally, using local and healthy building materials
• the need to work together with others for solving problems
• local skills needed to meet local needs
• giving children hands-on experience of a sustainable and natural building technique (cob)
identifying next steps and their implementation in order to enable young people to contribute to positive change in their living environment.
• make the expertise of The Hollies Centre more available to the local community

Expected learning outcomes of the proposed ‘sustainability’ modules:

• Children will have a clearer sense of needs and how they are met: clean air and water, soil, food, shelter, heat, community, entertainment, transport etc.…..and whether they are met locally or from far away involving lots of oil-based energy

• Children will develop an appreciation of skills in their community (classroom and home community) and in what ways they are important now and for the future.

• They will have a better knowledge of essential energy cycles – energy from the sun, water, air – and of how human activity depends on them.

• They will understand better what is unsustainable about their current way of life and how they can make small changes in their families to live more sustainably.

**3 Activities during classroom visits**

a) First classroom visit:

Oily Ollie and Susie Sussed introduce the concept of Sustainability

Our basic assumption is that most people in the industrialised world currently live and use resources as if we had 4 planets. We introduced ‘Sustainability’ as the way of Living with the One Planet Earth we have and defined it as a way of life that can be sustained (=carried on) into the future, so that our children and their children can live happy and healthy lives too.
In order to bring this new concept to life, we decided to role play two additional characters, Oily Ollie and Susie Sussed, using different hats to indicate our change of character. This choice was designed to highlight the differences between sustainable and unsustainable behaviour in various areas. It also enabled us to avoid lecturing and to present new information in an entertaining way. We portrayed Oily Ollie as the character who drives fast cars, wastes energy and blames the government if petrol prices rise… – in short: he lives as if we had 4 planets to exploit.
Susy Sussed, by contrast, ‘has it sussed’ how to live more sustainably: she cycles to work or goes by bus, grows her own vegetables, and knows that her choices can make a difference so that we can learn how to live with the one planet. We used these 2 characters on various occasions during both classroom visits.

Needs Assessment

At the beginning of each session we had 2 posters on the wall, one showing 4 planets Earth and the other showing only one with ‘Living with One Planet’ written underneath. After introducing ourselves and our additional 2 characters with a short role play, we suggested a game to get to know the student’s names.
This game consisted of throwing a soft ball saying one’s name, second time round the name and ‘one thing I like doing’, third time round the name and ‘one thing I need every day’.

After that we got the children to brainstorm basic needs and recorded them on a flip chart.
Items included air, food, water, heat, friends, homes, healthcare, transport, education, exercise, energy/electricity, clothes, soil, and trees.
The next step was to ascertain whether the things we use to meet these needs come from near or far. In this context, quite far reaching concepts were discussed, such as ‘food miles’ (i.e. that the average food item we buy in supermarkets has travelled 1500 miles), why most of our shoes and clothes are made in Asia (lesser wages, child labour, etc.), ‘embodied energy’ in building materials
(how much energy is used and pollution caused in making products like concrete, foam insulation, etc.).

A short quiz about what items like a lunch box, mobile phone, plastic bottle, CD, pen, pain killer had in common (made of oil) rounded up the insight that we currently depend too much on a resource that is not going to be so readily available in the future.

This lead on to discussing how people’s needs were met when their grandparents were children and that they needed to find out more about it by talking to them. In some classes we also showed a book (‘Material World’ by Peter Menzel that illustrates very impressively how families around the globe – for instance in USA and India – meet their basic needs very differently).

Skills Inventory

We introduced the idea to the kids that for meeting their needs more locally, they had to find out about resources and skills available in their area. We demonstrated the ‘Family Skills Tree’ as a tool for getting an overview of the relevant skills in their close community. Every main branch stands for a family member and smaller branches off these stands for skills (such as gardening, cooking, blacksmithing, etc.). As a first piece of homework, they were asked to interview as many relatives and neighbours as they could in order to draw this Family Skills Tree for our next visit.
We demonstrated with a few volunteers how this can be done. This included practising interviewing skills such as asking open questions, active listening, and keeping focused.

Energy Audit

We explained that it was important to use energy wisely and not to waste it. Our first step in learning about this was to turn the children into ‘energy detectives’. We took them on a tour with pen and pad around their classroom and school building (wherever it was possible to go), and got them to study how it was heated, check for draughts, insulation, single or double glazing windows, electrical appliances, high or low ceilings, etc. Then we gave them a questionnaire for conducting an Energy Audit at home, together with their parents, as a second piece of homework.
We asked the teachers to remind their students of the skills trees and energy audits before our second visits.

To round up the first visit, we asked the class to do two rounds of collective story telling going round the circle with every child continuing the story, one involving Oily Olly and one with Susy Sussed, using as many things they had learnt as possible.

b) Second classroom visit

At the beginning, we asked the students to do a go-around to remind us of their names and to say one thing they remembered from our first visit. The level of retention of information turned out to be quite high. Following this feedback, the group size and time available, it became apparent which homework review to start with and how much time to spend on each of them.

Depending on the group’s size and the expected level of focus or distraction we used different ways of debriefing their homework. In very large classes we used small groups for collating what they found out preparing their Family Skills Trees. At the end of the group work, 1 or 2
of them presented their results in front of the whole class. Basically we got them to sort the skills into 4 categories: food, shelter, energy and people care including the family names into the relevant categories. For instance, the Mc Carthy’s, O’Driscoll’s and Barrett’s were found to be skilled in the food category with meat and dairy farming, growing vegetables, cooking, baking and jam making.
In the smaller classes we did this activity with the whole class. Many of the children expressed astonishment at the wealth of skills present. In the light of a future with less fossil fuel, we discussed the strengths and weaknesses of their local community. Typically, the strengths were in people care, farming, food production and building skills, the main weaknesses in the energy category.

Reviewing the Home Energy Audits tended to be shorter. In some classes it turned out to be appropriate to check each child’s homework individually (more conventional approach), in others there was enough focus to debrief them in a group discussion, or a brainstorm of insights they gained by doing it (i.e. what a lagging jacket was, or that their house had no insulation), or listing things their families could do to save energy and money.

Between the two reviews we went outside (weather permitting) to demonstrate sustainable ways of generating electricity using the renewable energy kits we had purchased for this module. They included a wind turbine, a solar collector and a PV panel. In poor weather we demonstrated them indoors using artificial light instead of the sun and a table fan for simulating wind. These demonstrations turned out to be very popular with most of the students.

To round up the things learned about sustainability so far, we put ‘Oily Olly on trial’, asking the students to plead him ‘guilty or not guilty’ of behaving unsustainably and getting them to suggest what he could do instead. We used examples like the following ones (more sustainable alternatives in brackets) : he lives in Bantry and drives to work to Cork (find work in Bantry or live closer to Cork); he bought a little house with a wood burning stove and converted it to burn oil (keep or up-grade woodburner); he always drives on his own to town to go shopping (get together with neighbours to organise shopping runs); he just bought fish fingers, a tin of baked beans and tomatoes in winter/spring (eat seasonally and fresh food, preferably learn how to grow some it himself).

c) Day at The Hollies Centre for Practical Sustainability

These full day visits were designed to pull together much of the content explored in the classroom visits showing the children how a couple of families are managing to live more sustainably by building a comfortable and beautiful low impact house, growing some of their own food, planting trees and managing woodlands, and by building a strong sense of community. Experiential learning is at the heart of all 4 main activities carried out during each visit:

1) The children arrived and got a tour of the completed cob house at The Hollies. In our explanations we linked everything back to the classroom visits – environmentally friendly, local building materials i.e. cob walls made of the earth that the house stands on, timber cut and milled on site (while several thousand trees were planted), solar collectors on the roof, wood burning masonry stove for heat, recycled rubber slates as roof cover, vegetable gardens, fruit trees and many more features.

2) On a so-called ‘Earth Walk’ (developed by the Institute for Earth Education) Thomas Riedmuller lead the children around several fields conducting a series of activities that help the students connect with nature engaging all senses. This was done using simple props such as mirrors that were used in such a way that participants got the impression that they were walking in the branches of trees, or using double sided sticky tape on little oval cardboard pieces to stick on the colours of nature (petals and leaves) forming artists palettes, to name but a few of the activities. On the way they discovered old and new woodlands, vegetable gardens, a willow den and lots of wildlife.

3) Louise Rooney, Ulrike Riedmuller and volunteer helpers (students from the ‘Practical Sustainability Course’ in Kinsale who wanted to learn about this module) taught the children how to mix earth, clay, straw and water with their feet and hands to make cob. After mixing they used it to build a bench that turned into a dragon – sculpture over the period of all the school visits. This involved getting really muddy. Most children showed great enthusiasm for this.

4) To round up the visit all children could make their own pizza: roll out the dough, put on toppings, put it into a clay oven and eat it. The logistics of these meant that 2 were making their pizza at a time while the others were engaged in playing co-operative games (parachute games and others) that enhance team spirit rather than competition. For some of the children it was the very first time they actively prepared a meal (“wow, we could do this at home!

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