Plan A, B and C is Earth!

How can we ensure we don't need Mars as our Plan B planet?

Enter the gates at Sylvia Park School and you’ll be amazed at what students there have created.

At the beginning of the term students were asked, “How can we ensure we don’t need Mars as our Plan B planet?” In response, students and teachers designed and constructed their own outdoor classroom – improving the school’s sustainability and helping to educate friends and whānau.

The outdoor classroom took just under three weeks to build. The space features an array of different projects that utilize recycled materials and encourage sustainability. These include:

  • A bug palace and wētā hotels
  • Herb, vegetable and medicinal plant boxes
  • A greenhouse made from recycled plastic bottles
  • A rain water collection system
  • A worm farm and compost bins
  • Bird nesting boxes
  • A swale planted with native shrubs and grasses
  • A spider-web climbing frame, and
  • An entrance inspired by The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

“It’s important to us that students’ learning translates to something that allows them to contribute to our community and wider society in a meaningful and powerful way,” says Sylvia Park School principal Barbara Alaalatoa. “Through experiences like this, our children learn they can be the change makers our world needs.”

The project was undertaken as part of the Enviroschools programme, which aims to help students develop skills, understanding, knowledge and confidence through planning, designing and working towards creating a sustainable school. 

Auckland Council Enviroschools facilitator Cate Jessep was inspired by the level of enthusiasm shown by students and teachers at Sylvia Park School.

“They came up with the ideas, and I helped to connect them with experts such as stormwater and biodiversity specialists. Everyone involved was totally committed to making this project a success, and the results are truly remarkable.”

Principal Alaalatoa welcomes groups wanting to visit the outdoor classroom. Please contact Sylvia Park School if you would like to request a viewing.

For more information on the Enviroschools programme visit their website.

See more photos of the Sylvia Park School outdoor classroom.

Top photo: A goal of the garden project was to dispel common fears around spiders through installations and signage
Middle photo: The newly planted swale bank
Bottom photo: The team after planting 225 native grasses, shrubs and trees in the swale and in the native garden

Article by Leighton Simmons (Auckland Council) and Sophie Johnson (Auckland Council)

Photos by Leighton Simmons (Auckland Council) and Cate Jessep (Auckland Council)