Room 3 Celebrating technology to solve a global problem

Room 3 has been busy. We looked at global issues and chose to focus on the issue of waste, especially that caused by single-use plastic.

Luckily we had lots of local experts who could come in and support our learning by sharing their knowledge. Mr Thompson came and showed us what Total Sport are doing to cut down on single-use plastic waste at events. Diana showed us how to make Boomerang Bags.  Tyler’s mum and Tyler showed us how to make soap bars. Ashtin’s mum and Ashtin showed us how to make honey wrap. Shannon from Taupo District Council talked to us about plastic entering the food chain and Lake Taupo.  She even showed us where our waste goes to on a trip to the Taupo landfill Recycling Centre. Cath from Enviro Schools taught us about biodegradability. What an amazing supportive community we have at Wairakei Primary School!


Shannon from Taupo District Council


Trip to the Recycling Centre

Mrs Thompson taught us about the technology design process and then set us a challenge to use the process to research and design something to help solve the global issue of single-use plastic waste. It was a big challenge!  However, we took it on, and amazed her with the variety of prototypes we came up with. Here are our projects, presented to other students, teachers, parents, and members of the Taupo District Council at our recent Celebration of Learning. 

Ava, Brooke and Piper decided to tackle the issue of disposable plastic cutlery and plastic packaging in lunchboxes.  They designed and sewed prototypes of reusable cutlery pouches, using reusable straws, and cutlery from the Salvation Army shop. Ava designed and sewed reusable snack bags. They also organised a nude food picnic at school, making posters and advertising it in each class.  It was very successful, with over 100 children attending. This group also looked at using honey wrap. Ashtin’s mum, Michelle, from, Broomes Bee Wraps.  She kindly helped Ashtin to run a workshop so that every child in the class could make their own honey wrap.      


Reusable cutlery pouches


Ava's cutlery pouches and snack bags


Nude food picnic


Our honey wrap!

Huriana, Quianah, Jordyn-Lea and Kora made recycled plastic by fusing bread bags in a toasted sandwich maker and with an iron.  They decided the iron method was better, as it made smoother plastic. They cut the plastic into butterfly shapes and glued them to a used plastic sign that they had spray painted. This made a beautiful piece of art for in our classroom. Kora is very creative and also made barbie clothes from a burnt piece of honey wrap and a pencil case from an old soft toy.


Making recycled plastic in the toasted sandwich maker.jpg


Butterflies made from recycled plastic bags


Beautiful art made from recycled plastic bags


Kora upcycled a soft toy into a pencil case


Kora's barbie clothes made from burnt honey wrap

Te Whetu, Kritnesh, Kevin, Ashtin and Tyler also made their own recycled plastic by fusing bread bags. They decided to turn this material into pencil cases and sew them on the sewing machine.

We had to make sure we ironed the plastic bags on both sides and right to the corners. said Te Whetu. 

It was tricky, I sewed my zip in upside down! said Tyler.


Recycled plastic pencil cases


Adding designs to recycled pencil cases

Poppy, Arley and Daniel made reusable bags and produce bags from donated fabric, old pillowcases, old curtain fabric and even old t-shirts! To begin with Kora taught them how to make bags from old t-shirts without sewing. Poppy hand-sewed elastic handles onto a pillowcase to make a bag prototype.  After the Boomerang Bags sewing session, they began sewing all kinds of designs. We set up a sewing corner in class. They were so good on the sewing machine by the end that they were able to teach others how to use it. Ï love sewing! I’ve asked mum for a sewing machine for my birthday!” says Poppy.  Read more about Boomerang bags here.


Piper teaching Daniel how to make a produce bag


Arley teaching children how to pin and sew a bag


Upcycled reusable bags

Piper collected old crayons from the classrooms at school and then recycled them by melting them.  She even ran a workshop to teach the rest of the class how to do it. Read more about this here.


Piper's recycled crayons


Piper showing her recycled crayons

Mr Thompson volunteered to teach one group some building skills and then they decided to make a go-kart! They drew up designs and went to the recycling centre to collect some parts.  Jack found a fantastic seat to use. Mr Thompson helped them to build it and Dallas’ dad also helped them to finish it off. They have enjoyed playing on it at school and are pretty proud of themselves. Ï know how to use a drill all by myself now!” says Trend.


Dallas and his dad


The Go Kart team


Upcycled Go Kart

Tyler decided to make soap bars, as these can use biodegradable packaging, unlike the body wash that many of us use. His mum, Suzanne, has a business making soaps, so she was able to help him. Both of them kindly ran a workshop for the class, and all of the children got to make their own soap. He proudly told us how he had convinced his mum to switch her soap packaging to reusable, biodegradable bags, rather than plastic wrap. You can check out her business Soulful Skin Food here.


Tyler's soaps


Tyler and Suzanne running a soap making workshop


Tyler's mum now packages her soaps in biodegradable packaging instead of plastic

After reading a zero waste challenge in class, Lachie, Victoria, Emily and Charlie decided to try to make zero-waste, natural cleaning products.  Victoria’s mum, Melissa, kindly worked with them to research and trial many recipes, including window cleaner, drain cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, table cleaner, and furniture polish.  Lachie’s mum said she loved him trying out recipes at home, as he had cleaned her toilets, mopped the floors and cleaned her windows! Lachie said he loved the toilet cleaner, as it smelt like mint ice cream, but it was a bit messy and he had spilled it all over the bathroom. Mrs Thompson loved using the products on her whiteboard and the tables in the classroom.


Victoria's window cleaner


Lachie showing children his homemade toilet cleaner


Green Clean- homemade cleaning products


Green Clean homemade natural cleaning products

Clare decided to make a petition to get Air New Zealand to cut down on single-use plastic, starting with biodegradable lolly wrappers. Read more about this here.


Clare getting people to sign her petition


Biodegradable lolly wrapper prototypes

Brooke came up with the idea of creating biodegradable fruit stickers after seeing the plastic stickers littering our garden and concrete at school. She made some prototypes but then discovered that these had already been invented. You can read about this here.


Brooke showing the council her biodegradable fruit stickers 

After seeing her mum use a single-use plastic tissue pouch, Imogen designed a variety of reusable ones with Emily’s help.   Read more about this here.


Imogen's prototypes for her tissue pouches

This inquiry unit has really changed the way that we think.  We are all trying to use less single-use plastic and to choose products with less packaging.  Many students have bought new lunchboxes with compartments so that they don’t need packaged foods.  Jack decided to sew himself reusable fabric toothbrush cases to replace his plastic one. Ava even sewed herself a new book bag.  Instead of buying packaged snacks for our end of term movie, Mrs Thompson decided that we should make our own, so we made a brownie. As we learned from Dr Seuss in the Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” Every little change that we make will help lead to big changes. What changes can you make?


Making our own brownie to save packaging

Keywords: technology, enviro, community involvement, inquiry learning

Nude food picnic