The RGC school community have been inspired to take action during Sustainability Fortnight in a bid to hear the ideas and thoughts about the 17 goals set out for the COP26 summit in Glasgow. As the summit came to an end we have captured some of the perspectives and pledges from our pupils and staff.
As part of the Sustainability Fortnight our Nursery children looked at the ways in which they can be even more healthy as part of their focus on the UN Sustainability Goal of Good Health and Wellbeing. Each day started with an enjoyable and lively workout and the children were very excited about the opportunity to go to local shops to buy healthy food items for snack, where after they investigated a world map to find where their food came from.
Pledges began in the Junior School with new pledge trees made from recycled cardboard and covered in colourful leaves detailing pupil pledges to help save the environment and messages they would like to send to world leaders.
We then caught up with the Junior Eco reps to hear their thoughts on COP26 and the global impact of climate change. Our Eco reps have a leading role in looking at ways we can be more sustainable at school and at home.
We have been amazed to see the pace set by Primary 5 who have been focusing on No Poverty (Goal 1) and made a call out to Junior School parents for outgrown winter coats to donate to Home Start on George Street. The pupils amassed quite the collection and were delivered to them at the end of the week.
Primary 5 also undertook a project focusing on Goal 6, Clean Water and Sanitation. After carrying our class surveys and writing persuasive letters to Mrs Webb and Mr Macpherson regarding single use of plastic bottles, the Junior School have made the decision that children having lunch at Countesswells will take their own water bottles and refill them to remove the use plastic bottles.
Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (Goal 16) was the focus for pupils in one of the Primary 6 classes who reached out to local businesses to help with donations to The Cyrenians charity. Pupils were extremely grateful to receive generous donations from Codonas who donated £560 worth of vouchers, The Belmont Picture House who donated 50 open cinema tickets and the class even secured a VIP Box for 16 people for Disney on Ice at P&J Live. Read the full story.
Another class in Primary 6 visited the Aberdeen South Harbour Extension Visitor Centre as part of their work on Research on Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (Goal 9). The pupils were amazed watching the break water being built in front of them and were interested to learn about the depth of the harbour and how the accropodes have been built with climate change and tidal concerns in mind. They found the trip fascinating, learning about how many accropodes have been made for the breakwaters and the use of a bubble curtain to protect marine mammals during the construction activity.
Primary 6 have been fortunate to learn from leading food waste companies who have been able to explain how they are contributing to sustainability with food waste. Pupils have spent time hearing from Keenan Recycling about the science behind composting food waste and the resources that can be produced from the food waste, and Vegware, global specialists in plant-based compostable food service packing. The pupils were so inspired learning about food recycling and diversification that they took their learning to their science class to experiment with banana peels and natural food ingredients to produce to create biodegradable plastic.
Interested to learn about alternative models for sustainable transport, Primary Six were able to experience first hand a new Hydrogen bus which stopped off at Countesswells. The representative from First Bus was able to explain to the pupils how the new buses store hydrogen, refuel and the benefits of powering the bus with natural energy. Read the full story.
Pupils in Primary 7 showed their desire to make an impact by designing their own website as part of Goal 4, Quality Education. On the website, pupils have created resources to share details on what Quality Education means, global climate change statistics and interviews and articles that are relevant to climate change.
Across the Junior School pupils have been excited to hear from experts locally and nationally who have specialist interests in sustainability. Sue Richardson from Wood explained to classes from Nursery to Primary 7 about what industry is doing to tackle Climate Change and specifically how Wood is tackling climate change, disease and other important global issues. Read the full story.
In the Senior School, the senior pupil Eco Club - ROAR (reduce overuse and recycle) has taken forward two initiatives during COP26. The first was "a moment for our climate" on Wednesday 3rd November. At 10:45am all pupils and staff paused for one minute to think about what they have done for the climate. Also pupils ran a fundraiser where they chose to wear something green collecting £80 for local organisation, Aberdeen Climate Action. The second initiative was sustainability pledge videos where form Classes were invited to produce short videos describing their personal pledge to help the climate. The entries were judged by the members of ROAR and prizes were awarded to the two best videos from S1 to S5. The winning form classes will have a tree planted in their name and the pupils will select the type of tree planted with the National Forest charity.
Some of our S1 pupils have also had the opportunity to visit the Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS) marquee at COP26. The group found the Vertical Crop Farming showcase "impressive", "innovative" and "progressive". Their visit generated lots of questions about the future of farming and were delighted to meet Gordonian and CEO of IGS, David Farquhar, Class of '75.
In S2 RMPS pupils have spent the past weeks researching ten topics relating to environmental impacts. As part of their research, Summer and Richelle reported to their class on forest species protection and Niamh and Emma detailed the consequences of deforestation.
Mrs McWIlliam, Teacher of RMPS said: “It was lovely to hear pupil feedback after the presentations, which showed just how much they had learnt from their peers’ research. Even young people can be unaware of the vast spectrum of climate change impacts.”
Spanish pupils in S3 and S4 learned about the impacts of deforestation on indigenous communities in South America. The pupils used the information they gathered to create and display posters in Crooked Lane to help raise awareness about environmental issues surrounding COP26.
School Captain Anish S travelled to COP26 to join a youth activists panel at the New York Times Climate Hub Educators Day. Anish had the opportunity to talk about the role of education in battling climate change and debate about the challenges and opportunities for young people to make change. Anish was joined by fellow youth activists Hannah Testa, Sophia Kianni and Charlotte Muller-Stuart.
This is an unbelievably good debate, and a proud moment for the @robertgordons community as Anish shares his views and experiences alongside youth activists @hannah4change @SophiaKianni & Charlotte Muller-Stuart. Amazing! @nytclimate #cop26 @LouiseHunterSHM #COP26Glasgow pic.twitter.com/1uHouWmyHl— Robin Macpherson FRSA 🧡 (@robin_macp) November 5, 2021
Mr Macpherson has been impressed by the thinking that has been going on in classrooms across the school and the level of creativity, innovation and desire to make a difference. He said “The ability for the younger generation to have an active voice has never been greater. I honestly believe that the current generation cares more about environmental change than any other and that they have the determination needed to make a meaningful difference. In this respect education is the most important aspect of sustainability, as we need to harness that enthusiasm and optimism in order to create lasting change in the way people live their lives. Our pupils will be at the forefront of this process and I am hugely encouraged by everything they are doing right now.”