Dedicated to cultivating a dynamic and holistic educational environment for its students, Ivanhoe Grammar School is committed to providing innovative, hands-on, formal and informal education experiences in the fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and environmental sustainability.
With a longstanding tradition of nurturing imaginative problem-solving and critical thinking skills among their students, Ivanhoe Grammar aspired to take their educational mission further, and thus established two key objectives:
• Empowering future circular economy champions: Empowering the next generation with the knowledge and skills necessary to become champions of the circular economy, with a focus on expanding opportunities for students to engage and immerse themselves deeply in STEM learning, fostering a profound connection with sustainability principles.
• Enriching the STEM Hub experience: Enhancing their purpose-built STEM Hub, providing students with cutting-edge resources and equipment that are intricately linked to the cross-curriculum area of sustainability.
With a strong focus on engaging students through experiential learning experiences that promote environmental stewardship, Ivanhoe Grammar School reached out to Precious Plastic Melbourne for assistance in facilitating a solution that provided children with a dynamic and highly interactive educational experience.
Following initial discussions, Ivanhoe Grammar School and Precious Plastic Melbourne (PPM) devised a comprehensive approach that encompassed the following key facets: The introduction of small-scale recycling machines into their STEM Hub, teacher consultation and learning sessions, and an interactive onsite student workshop.
Upon delivery of the equipment to Ivanhoe, the installation within the STEM Hub marked a pivotal milestone in the school's dedication to sustainability education. This strategic deployment created a designated space for hands-on recycling activities and student-driven innovation. To ensure the success of the initiative, a select group of students with a passionate interest in plastics and sustainability were invited to participate in an onsite workshop led by the PPM team. The primary objective was to empower both students and educators with the knowledge and skills needed to maximise the potential of their new suite of machines - an approach that not only empowered the students but also transformed them into advocates for recycling education within the STEM Hub.
Ivanhoe Grammar also places a strong focus on community building, and has harnessed the power of partnerships by collaborating with their primary school counterpart. This partnership engages Foundation students in the sorting of materials by colour, whilst Grade 6 students undertake polymer sorting. This collaborative effort not only fosters teamwork but also instills the significance of sustainability within the younger age groups.
The introduction of PPM's Zephyr Bros. recycling machinery has ignited a series of internal recycling projects at Ivanhoe Grammar. These projects include the production of various items, such as carabiners for cadets and IC lockers, as well as the crafting of 50 flower pots and hooks. Leveraging their own onsite waste stream in the form of 3D printer waste, students have ventured into the realm of Polylactic Acid (PLA - biodegradable thermoplastic material) experimentation and recycling. To further support Ivanhoe's recycling endeavors, PPM provides 3D printer waste shredding services. The STEM Hub remains steadfast in its commitment to ongoing experimentation and research and development plans for PLA. These efforts not only promote inquiry-based learning methods but also provide a circular solution for managing their own waste stream.
Future plans include the implementation of a recycling strategy for the entire school, a student-led initiative that will encompass the complete recycling process - from collection to sorting, shredding, and extrusion, empowering students to be active participants in their own local circular economy.
To further nurture the emerging generation of sustainability champions poised to drive positive change in the world, Ivanhoe Grammar aims to integrate the recycling machinery and related lessons into their core education program, in alignment with the Australian Curriculum. This approach will not only foster a culture of environmental responsibility among students but also equip them with practical skills to tackle real-world challenges.
The Precious Plastic Melbourne team produced the following equipment for Ivanhoe Grammar:
• 1 x Benchtop Extruder
• 1 x Benchtop Plastic Shredder
• 4 x Product Moulds (Carabiner, Pocket Comb, Door Knob & Plant Pot)
20+ kids engaged with initial workshop activity, 2000+ students to be engaged through whole school involvement
(As of October 2023.)
Lessons and success
Elevating educator and student proficiency in the operation of their newly acquired recycling machinery played a pivotal role in the resounding success of the initiative. This strategic upskilling not only ensured a seamless program activation, but also provided student advocates with the empowerment necessary to catalyse future student-led innovations.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"Precious Plastic Melbourne has played an integral role in the successful development and implementation of a small-scale circular economy plastic recycling program at Ivanhoe Grammar School. Piers, Kayla and the team demonstrated an unwavering commitment to our cause from the very beginning. Their support and training of our lead staff was nothing short of exceptional. They patiently guided us through the intricacies of plastic recycling, ensuring that we felt confident and well-equipped to oversee the program effectively.
One aspect of their support that truly stood out was their remarkable problem-solving capabilities. At every turn, PPM exhibited an incredible knack for troubleshooting and finding innovative solutions to any challenges that arose during the program's development. Their quick thinking and resourcefulness were invaluable in keeping the project on track and running smoothly.
Moreover, I must commend PPM for their dedication to educating our students. They not only shared their knowledge with our staff but also engaged our students in a meaningful way. Their educational session was informative, engaging, and eye-opening, leaving a lasting impact on our students. This approach to student involvement has not only contributed to the success of the program but also empowered the next generation with essential insights into sustainability and responsible plastic management."
Head Of Learning Area ‑ STEM, Ivanhoe Grammar School