Kids care about their communities and about the world we all live in, and the Eco-Warriors of Parap Primary School are no different. The action they took to address the problem of plastic pollution is an example to us all.
This is the story of how teacher Chelsea Collins’ students used Solution Fluency and rallied their community to help them put their very own Boomerang Bags in the hands of local shoppers.
The question of how one can make a difference in the world is a powerful one. When given the right focus, it can lead to actions that eventually inspire widespread transformation. Such was the question facing the young learners of Australia’s Parap Primary School.
A whole-school approach to environmental sustainability led the school to form the Eco-School team to tackle ecological issues of every sort. The Eco-Committee meets at least once a week to talk over pressing environmental issues, and the whole school is involved on some level to a commitment to action.
The question of how one can make a difference in the world is a powerful one.
The student-led Eco-Warriors team has done everything from tree planting to building a sustainable eco-garden. The most pressing issue has been reducing the amount of plastic and plastic bags in our community and the world.
On this particular occasion, the Eco-Warriors decided to take action on a local level regarding the plastic polluting our oceans and harming marine life. “Parap Village markets run every Saturday, rain or shine,” explains Year 2 teacher Chelsea Collins. “Nearly every vendor pushes a single-use plastic bag. Students found this very distressing, and this was their starting point.”
Using the Solution Fluency process, the Eco-Warriors began their quest by asking themselves how they could make a difference in the face of what they had discovered.
The Boomerang Bag logo proofs after a screen printing test
That’s when they came across the innovative Boomerang Bags project, which provides a sustainable alternative to using plastic bags. “The Boomerang Bags initiative offered the warriors a tangible alternative to plastic bags, and Solution Fluency a framework in which to do so,” Chelsea recalls.
“The international initiative had not yet reached Territorian soil, so we were all very excited to make our mark on the map.”
The Eco-Warriors team worked with the Eco-Committee members and also the community at large, which involved sending request letters to collect everything they needed. The students produced several unique and creative prototype designs that went into construction.
They used recycled materials for their bags and spent time deciding on the best screen printing colours and designing creative poster ideas. In addition to this, they found they weren’t alone in their quest to make a difference, and others were just as keen on lending a hand as well.
A pair of Parap eco-warriors show off their Boomerang Bag designs
“A team of hard-working Super Mums and community members jumped on board to bring the dream to fruition,” says Chelsea. In addition to parental and community support, the local Chief Minister and other stakeholders pitched in to realize the Eco-Warriors’ vision.
Of course, Chelsea was amazed and excited with the results the students produced. “The initial goal was 300 bags, and bang—the goods were manifested and distributed in local businesses. To this date, our collective has made 1,500 bags and growing.”
There is now some incredible high order thinking and learning going on for all of Chelsea's students, exceeding her expectations.
- Students are taking ownership of their learning in creative ways.
- The Fluencies as learning processes stimulate higher-order thinking.
- There is a boost in confidence and participation in learning.
- There is a significant improvement in achievement and attitude.
Wabisabi team leader Kathleen Baker-Brown first introduced the Essential Fluencies to Parap Primary in 2016. The teachers immediately resonated with the model. They claim that using the 6Ds is an innovative and practical framework in which to get things done.
- Teachers have the freedom to be more creative with their teaching.
- Instruction is no longer so linear for teachers and students.
- They can facilitate lessons in ways that inspire themselves and their learners.
- The Fluencies offer tools to help fine-tune instruction, assessment, and feedback.
Chelsea says she has seen a positive shift in the culture of Parap Primary with future-focused learning. "To continually improve, we must learn together from each other, be respectful, collaborate, and strive to achieve our personal best," she asserts. "I do look forward to growing and learning more about my students and myself through the Fluencies."
- Staff have been given more autonomy through their professional judgment.
- Learning is more fluid, organic, and more enriching as a result.
- The Fluencies provide a pedagogical approach that puts children at the center of the learning.
- Students, parents, teachers, and other community members are all working together toward shared goals.