Sustainability – A good place to start

Change doesn’t happen overnight, it always starts somewhere. A conversation, an idea …. a message in a bottle….

Lets reduce our plastic waste..


Waste Wise launched it’s Message in a Plastic Bottle   program at John Curtin College of the Arts in 2015. The curriculum guide covers English, Maths, Science, Geography and Leadership. I was approached to trial the maths’ activities with my two year 7 classes by our  Waste Wise School co-ordinator and sustainability guru science teacher. With the introduction of Year 7’s into high school in WA in the same year , I was excited about trialing a program that was cross-curricular and authentic. STEM wasn’t the buzz word at this stage, but as educators we have always known that learning experiences are improved if they are transferable.

Year One2016

  • We trialed the lessons with two year 7 mathematics classes and some science classes. It was easy to follow, relevant, with very little preparation required by me. Big tick.
  • My students informed me they were also learning about water in their geography lessons. Another big tick –  its a part of the Yr 7 H.A.S.S program anyway
  • With the trial getting two two big ticks – we decided we would expand the program  to the other learning areas. Four teachers from the four learning areas attended a free workshop run by Waste Wise Schools. With time to collaborate, we decided to deliver the program in term one. This would used in English to support the students persuasive writing techniques, before the NAPLAN testing in term two.

Year Two – 2017 

  • Message in a Plastic Bottle is placed in the program for all year 7 Maths and Science classes. H.A.S.S and English trial the program.
  • It is noted by the English teacher trialing the program that the integrated approach has helped improve students’ persuasive writing, and many used it in their NAPLAN writing. Another big tick.

Year Three – 2018 

  • We are inviting Waste Wise Schools to visit our school to deliver a workshop to new year 7 teachers.
  • We plan to collect data to monitor what students have participated, yes, while it is in the program, we are a real school and there is always those teachers who run out of time because it wasn’t in the maths and science textbook.
  • We will have a closer look at the work produced by students in English and use this as the measure of success to encourage other staff to continue the program. This data can then be shared with schools like yours.

So in conclusion, these government initiatives and educational programs are free and they are happy to come out to your school to deliver professional learning.  This is a John Curtin College of the Arts example, of how we started to collaborate across the learning areas to bring STEAM learning practices into our school.

The world is producing too much waste. It is not sustainable, and it will not be fixed by some person in an ivory tower somewhere. Change happens through people. I have learned so much by participating in this program.  I didn’t really think to much about the amount of plastic I was using prior.

What did I learn? There is no difference between bottled water in Western Australia and the quality of our tap water. Often the 2000 times more expensive bottled water you buy is just tap water. The environmental impact and the amount of waste produced by bottles of water is mind blowing – I highly recommend you watch the video. Twenty – First Century Waterfall

Consider the message that will be sent via NAPLAN when 12 year old children start writing about plastic water bottles in this standardised test.



Message in a Plastic bottle PDF File Resources  Years 7 – 10   Message_in_a_plastic_bottle_WEB

John Curtin College English Year 7 Persuasive Writing Booklet  miapb_persuasive_writing

Student Science Sample

My maths class

Author: steamdonnab

Mathematics teacher in a secondary school of the Arts. Passionate about STEAM learning and finding real ways to make it work in the classroom

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