The past year of remote and hybrid learning in many schools has only emphasized the importance of independent, self-directed learning, with many educators discovering its benefits for critical thinking and problem solving amongst young learners. GreenLearning has always seen the value of a student-centered approach towards teaching youth about environmental issues, in a way that nurtures them to become solutionaries. Our challenges are proven to prepare young people for a sustainable future.
GreenLearning’s challenges for the 2021-22 school year were Re-Energy Challenge, Energy Revealed Challenge, Decoding Carbon Challenge, Eco 360 Challenge and Flood:ED Challenge. Through these environmental challenges, we supported educators across a range of innovative learning experiences that amplified student voice, reinforced project and problem-based learning as well encouraged a focus on connections to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs).
We engaged with educators and learners from all provinces and territories in Canada with over 6,298 students registered for this year’s challenges! Our challenge participants competed for a chance to win first, second and third place prizes of $1000, $500 and $250 respectively. Without much further ado, here are the challenge winners in each category outlined below.
Re-Energy is a hands-on, STEAM challenge that tasks young learners with building a working model of any renewable energy technology.
- First Place: Hunter's Glen Public School, Grades 3-4, Scarborough, Ontario.
Ms. Energy Saver’s young learners built, tested and compared two different solar oven models, all the while engaging over 400 people in learning about solar energy. They used different designs and various recycled materials for their solar ovens. Throughout the project, they also tested if proximity to the sun would have any effect on their design: their solar oven was placed on the roof, where they were able to monitor temperature increase over a longer period of time which led to better results.
- Second Place: Urban Acres Explorers, Grades 4-5, Sherwood Park, Alberta
Ms. Liz’s students built an innovative and unique solar oven and had to overcome several challenges to reach temperatures of 65oC! Some of its design features include an upcycled fresnel lens from a television to magnify the sun’s rays, and a rod to hang the food from and keep it level so that the solar oven could be positioned at an angle facing the sun.
- Third Place: St. Francis Xavier, Grade 12, Edmonton, Alberta
Ms. Boulton’s students approached this challenge in small groups and got creative in both the design and sourcing of materials for their solar ovens. They used recycled materials and repurposed waste, such as an old photo frame to create a cover for one of their ovens. Their unique design helped the oven reach a temperature of over 65oC, despite the outside temperature being around 12oC.
Energy Revealed encourages young learners to learn about energy efficiency and conservation by hosting and tracking the impact of a School Earth Hour event.
- First Place: Chris Hadfield Public School, Grades K-8, Milton, Ontario
The Senior Eco-Hawks at Chris Hadfield Public School won this challenge last year! This year, they organized an All Day Earth Hour Plan to conserve energy. The event engaged over 1,050 students, staff and community members in a variety of initiatives. Altogether, they were able to conserve 202.47 kWh of energy, which is equivalent to 88 kg of greenhouse gas emissions conserved!
- Second Place: Waterloo Collegiate Institute, Grades 9-12, Waterloo, Ontario
Waterloo Collegiate Institute’s Eco Club hosted a Turn It Off Thursday event, which was a component of an inter-school Eco Competition. The event engaged about 50 classes and they saved an estimated 63 kWh of energy, which is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions absorbed by 59 trees in a year! The Eco Club was also featured in a news article in the Community Edition, titled WCI Students Advocate Energy Usage Awareness for Earth Week.
- Third Place: Renert School, Grades 4-6, Calgary, Alberta
Having learned about energy conservation, Ms. Kim and Ms. Haney’s students challenged each grade 4-6 homeroom in their school to conserve energy. Renert School accepted the challenge and hosted an exciting School Earth Hour event featuring several hands-on learning activities that resulted in 9 kWh of energy and 2 kg of greenhouse gas emissions conserved.
In Eco 360, learners in grades 9-12 are tasked with developing a feasible innovation plan that incorporates a circular economic model, eliminating plastic waste from our environment.
- First Place: Crescent Heights, Grade 10, Calgary, Alberta
Guided by thorough research and investigation, the students at Crescent Heights created an innovative solution to tackle both the issue of plastic waste in the environment and also the problem of sleep deprivation in teens. The product - ReSleep - uses recycled plastic as the mass in a weighted blanket, which helps reduce anxiety and improve sleep.
- Second Place: Robert Thirsk High School, Grade 10, Calgary, Alberta
Mr. Lake’s students at Robert Thirsk High School started off their work with a plastics audit and speed plastics discussions, in which students became more conscious of the plastic use around them and its impact on the environment. Then, they worked in groups, with each one proposing a series of initiatives ranging from a local awareness campaign on the effects of plastic waste on water to a solution for replacing all food packaging with compostable alternatives to a thrifting program at school and much more.
- First Place: Dr. Morris Gibson School, Grade 3, Okotoks, Alberta
Over the years, Dr. Morris Gibson School has on occasion, experienced flooding of their playgrounds, school fields and parking lot., For their challenge project, the students created a plan to improve and revitalize an existing green space “Aspen Grove”, located on a hill above their large school playground overlooking the swings and other playground structures. This project will mitigate flooding of the playground from water flowing down the hill and into the grounds.
Our heartfelt thanks goes out to all of the educators and students who participated in the challenges during this school year. We would also like to thank this year’s judges and funders - Suncor Energy Foundation, TD Friends of the Environment and Dow Canada for their support.
To read more detailed project summaries from each of the participants and view top highlights from the challenges, please view the challenge submissions showcase.
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Have a great summer!