Two schools in the south-Brazilian city Porto Alegre want to educate their students as environmentally conscious citizens of the new millenium.
In response to the students request, the school looked for a sustainable alternative for plastic cups. They distributed 1500 renewable bottles, thus reducing the consumption of plastic cups from 3500 to 250 cups each day. “We want our students to care about the world they live in”, explains Maria Tereza Coelho, the principals assistant. The school with nearly a 1000 students already owned a kitchen garden, a compost and a system to sort out garbage. But in their attempt to create a better world, they want to do more.
In 2009, a study concerning the preservation of biodiversity in school environments caught the attention of biologist Camila Rezendo Carneiro and agronomist Sérgio Luiz de Carvalho Leite, a professor at the university of Rio Grande do Sul. Guided by Carneiro en Leite, the students are now mapping the natural environment on the schoolyard.But that’s not all. In 2011 the school will develop a miniature model of a sustainable city. The students can appoint a mayor and the priorities of the budget. This city, with which the students are given a hand by a mother of one of students who is an architect, will be made entirely out of recycled materials. Finally the students will also get an “ecological” classroom which will be self-sustainable.
Since September 2009, a similar project is running in the Israeli-Brazilian college in Porto-Alegre. Here, students can be elected as mayor, Councillor and member of the court. The school with 750 students had this switch-over after principal Mônica Timm de Carvalho gained experience in Tzfat, a city in the north of Israel. The result is a city laboratory built on 500 m² unused school terrain.
“Ir Ktaná” (Hebrew for small city) is an extensive educational project. The city is built with green roofs, maximum use of natural light and flowing rainwater. The city includes a town hall, synagogue, library, tech house and a “Eco-market” where vegetables from the community garden are sold. The city has its own currency, the “irk”. This currency is used to support sustainable projects by the students. In short, the students learn mathematics, physics and other disciplines in practice.
The school also started an educational program where teachers stay informed of various trends such as integrated project management andapplied technology in education.
To built the infrastructure, 25000 euro was used. It costs about 2000 euro each month to keep the Ir Ktaná-project running.
Ir ktaná has a blog of its own where you can find more information.