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Learning About the Importance of Recycling

Over the last two terms, our Topic focus has been ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’. We have been learning how important it is to try and reduce the waste we produce, whilst also having a close look at ways in which we can do this.

As part of our learning, we had a visit to Godinton House (a stately home in the Parish of Great Chart). Godinton House prides themselves on their environmental management of their estate with its extensive compost heap for all biodegradable waste, and where their coppiced timber is turned into wood chip to fuel the Estate’s biomass boilers which provide heat and hot water to the House and buildings. They also manage their vast Estate, providing habitats that are safe and undisturbed thus encouraging native wildlife to thrive in their park and woodlands.  Year 6 were very lucky to be invited to the house and gardens to learn more about composting; this linked in very nicely to our Topic. We looked at which waste was good for composting, explored how long things took to break down and what was needed to allow this process to happen. We then had the chance to create our own mini compostariums which we were allowed to take away with us to study further at school.

       

After looking at Godinton House’s vast composting area, we went on a bug hunt. Here, we had the opportunity to look at some of the insects (decomposers) that help to break down the biodegradable waste which, eventually, then turns in to compost that can be used on your garden.

It was a fabulous afternoon and we really enjoyed seeing the huge compost heap – so much bigger than ours! It was also amazing to see and understand the job of the tiny creatures that work hard to help break down the waste, and learn even more about the composting process.

Once we returned to school, we worked hard on expanding our compost area. We now have two composting heaps and two leaf litter only heaps. Our Roots & Shoots Eco Group turned-over one of the heaps and sieved out our first batch of compost; we are very proud!

   

As well as the trip to Godinton House, we also went to our local Household Waste Recycling Centre. Here we learnt how our local council deals with household waste, and the importance of separating waste properly to maximise its value, allowing it to be processed or recycled efficiently. The first part of the trip we walked around the site with Vikki, the Mid & East Kent Education & Communications Officer, and looked at all the different waste sorting areas (waste streams) separating everything into different elements: garden waste, bulky waste, rubble, electrical, glass, plastic, etc.

 

It was so interesting as we never realised there were so many different ‘headings’ our waste could be sorted into. Vikki talked about how the waste is processed (broken down) and then remanufactured into new products. For example – tyres can be processed in to a fine consistency called ‘crumb rubber’. This can be used in many different ways: playground flooring or sports tracks; carpet underlay or insulation, or even turned into asphalt for road surfaces and speed bumps. Smaller products can also be made such as waterproof backpacks, mouse pads, door mats and even belts.

For the second part of the visit, we met Gary (a falconer) and Bella (his Hawk). Gary explained that he flies Bella to scare away the seagulls to prevent them from landing on the waste and spreading it around as the fly off – this spread of waste also encourages rats. Seagulls can also spread germs just from their feet alone as they can carry bacteria including E. coli and Salmonella – this can be very nasty to humans. Thankfully, just her presence is enough to ward off the seagulls. It was amazing to watch the few gulls that were there as they just sat on the rooftops, squawking their warnings to other gulls to ‘watch out, Bella’s about’. Gary then flew Bella, showing us how she flew up to the highest point and then swooped down to land on Gary’s falconry glove (gauntlet) where he was holding a piece of food to entice and reward her. One of the highlights of the visit was when some of the children were allowed to ‘fly’ Bella – that was a super experience!

     

Both trips were, not only extremely informative but also very enjoyable. A big thank you to all the staff on both trips (especially Bella – she was definitely the star), we all had a fabulous time.

 

 

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