Friday, March 30, 2012

Schools going beyond Earth Hour

Singapore will be observing Earth Hour for the fourth time on Saturday, March 31st but students from 18 months to 18 years, are doing their bid for the environment beyond just 60 minutes.

Since Earth Hour was first observed in Singapore in 2009, the San Lorenzo Montessori school has made it a point to switch off school lights for an hour in two separate sessions.

Though just toddlers, the children are taught the significance of Earth Hour and environmental conservation before the lights go off on Friday.

"We teach the kids about topics like the solar system as part of our curriculum. So with Earth Hour, we teach them its significance and how they can play their part," said Ms Audrey Cho, principal of the Montessori.

The school believes that the effort not only gels smoothly with the school's curriculum, which puts a focus on environmental education, but also serves as a momentum for change.

"If you teach the kids only ABC, you'll miss lots of opportunities. According to studies, 80% of personality traits are formed from 0 to 6 years of age. It's the perfect stage to introduce environmental values" said Ms Cho.

"As for Earth Hour, I've seen the kids getting excited. Their enthusiasm can rub off onto their parents and influence their parents to participate in such activities," she added.

Change led by the young is most apparent in Yangzheng Primary School, where the school has been switching off the lights and fans every month for 10 minutes since last year.

The initiative was the result of the Student Suggestion Scheme, revealed teacher Ms Celestia Chew.

"The students are so enthusiastic that they will always count down to Earth Hour. They are so eager that they will remind me to switch off the lights" said Ms Chew who's also known as the 'Green' teacher for her role as the school's environmental coordinator.

Going beyond the school walls, the teenaged student leaders of Nan Hua High have joined hands with the West Coast Grassroots Organizations (GROs) to organise an Earth Hour event for residents in Clementi.

"The residents will be treated with performances by the students from choir, dance and other co-curricular activities (CCAs). During the lights off, we will conduct a night walk and everyone will make a formation of 60+ thereafter," said Mr Chia Yew Loon, Head of Community Relations Department.

Nan Hua High is expecting 1000 residents to turn up to the event, and have been making preparations since last February.

"By allowing them to organize activities, they'll gain experience and learn from there," said Mr Chia.

At Yishun Junior College (YJC), a group of student leaders known as Environmental Ambassadors take the initiative to lead the institution in environmental practices with regular assembly talks centering on Earth Hour and gathering pledges to preserve the environment.

Besides these one-off initiatives, the Environmental Ambassadors also make sure they walk the talk, by organizing Project RUSCO, a collaboration with Alpha Biofuel that started in 2010 to recycle used cooking oil.

In 2011, Project RUSCO surpassed expectations by collecting an estimated 30kg of oil, with half that amount being converted into biodiesel to fuel green vehicles.

The students also conduct environmental talks in schools around the region while also taking the conservation message to residents and hawkers.

"We are leaving it up to the students, so there's more student ownership" said Mr Chua Chee Siang of YJC's Science department.

"We don't want them to just participate, but to take the lead to change the environment and influence the society".

With young Singaporeans leading environmental initiatives, it appears that the message of Earth Hour can burn bright even after 60 minutes in the dark.

View the original article here

Source From Channel News Asia

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