|Posted on June 16, 2016 at 3:40 AM|
On the afternoon of 3rd of May, we were very excited when we came back from Mittelschule Weinberger. This school has so much to offer in terms of sustainability, it was not possible to present everything. The school was awarded the “Umweltschule für Europa”(Environmental School for Europe). Young people from around 17 different countries are taught here. The school can participate in the school fruit program, because they have a migration percentage of 40%. They now get supplied with fresh fruits once a week.
In 2012 they received the “InnereSchulentwicklungundSchulqualitätInnovatiionspreis” (Inner school development and school quality innovation prize). Currently they are in the process of applying for "Strong School" - a nationwide prize for Germany's best schools.
Around the bicycle (solar bicycles-taxi and open garage for bicycles)
Let's start immediately with a very impressive and unique project in the region: The home-built solar-Velo-taxi and it is equipped with solar panels. In addition, an intermediate storage (battery) is connected. This is loaded with sun energy and provides power for the electric motor.
The 5-8 pupils of this project groupbuilt all the bicycle components together and learned a lot. They also made some changes, for example, to make the taxi accessible for wheelchair users.
First, it took about 10 hours of sunlight to fully charge the battery. Then the pupils decided to take better solar panels that charge the battery in about five to six hours. The pupils managed to put an extra battery pack on for buffering the energy,because you are losing energy while parking. The battery is equipped with USB and the plug can be used for various things. Although the bicycle battery can also be charged at the plug or the cigarette lighter of a car, this never came to that. They never needed to charge the bicycle at any of these charging stations, because the sunlight from the sun was enough to charge the bicycle and use it as well. Mr. Schmitz underlined that each pupilput his/her own particular strengths into the project, which made it very successful. They also give their knowledge to other pupils. After creating a teaching lesson they visited a school in Parsbergto present their project. So they learnedalso by teaching.
One important experience for the participating pupils was that they can constantly improve something in the construction. The solar-Velo-taxi is not regularly used, but was used as a luggage van for the excursionto Dietkirchen. It was also used at the parent-teacher conferences and even for transport of material needed in school.
In addition to that a class that was doing a practical lesson built a bicycle trailer, which is for example used for music and drinks at the sports festival.
The school wants to open a bicycle workshop for disadvantaged groups, refugees, enthusiasts, etc. This will serve as an extension to the already existing project offered by G6, where they have a bike repair facility.The pupils are trained by the company Peter Stadler, to learn more about the bikes.
Fairtrade and good things for the region
Weinberger school has a so-called school-world-shop. Itwas presented to us in their creative student cafe, which is also often used as a project room or theater.
Two pupils showed us the store and explained what Fairtrade means.They buy the products in the One World Shop in Neumarkt and sell it for the same price as in the store. Sweets are the most popular products. Although some pupils are bothered by the expensive price,they said the taste is actually different and they liked it.
According to the taste:
An annual well-going project, called “the apple project” was initiated by Mr. Gmeiner:
The participating class collected apples on the canal, which the teacher droveto a company that presses the fruits. There were about 5 pupils that participated in the pressing process. They helped with the sorting of apples and the filling of bottles.
For this project the pupils came to conclusionthat the products do not always have to come from the supermarket.They are often found right outside the front door (like Streuobstwiese Neumarkt). The apple juice is sold to the pupils, parents and teachers.
Green in the City - school garden with raised beds and a greenhouse
Mittelschule Weinberger is a city school so there have been no green spots, until now. At first they considered building a small garden on the school’s roof, but it was not possible because of some policies. Instead, a spot behind the gym was created. The students redesigned it with MrGmeiner. They built raised beds and put paving stones for the foundation of a greenhouse. They planted some perennial plants, using fruit & vegetables such as strawberries, broccoli, zucchini or herbs for cooking. Even home-grown flowers were planted. Before it gets too cold the plants will be harvested. These planted fruits and vegetables are used to cook a meal for the pupils. In the fifth classes, they have their own raised beds to gain experience in gardening. Other classes even write the documentaries about the monitoring the development of the plants.
One student was so impressed by the garden that her father saw her enthusiasm about the flower beds. He ended up buying himself a hose and watered the school garden during the holiday.
After the holidays, everything flourished and the pupils were especially pleased with their pumpkins.
The idea now is to open the school garden for the whole school; so many more classes can participate.Every interested classwill then gethalf of a bed to carefor. Farming gets integrated into the school curriculum. In the 8th grade the teachers of PCB (physic, chemistry, biology) can use the themes“ground”, or the theme "material cycle of the plant," the decomposition of plants”, “compost pile” or “worm andsnail observation”while using their own worm monitoring boxes.
The teachers' work should not be underestimated here. For all these projects, meetings take place and each of the teachers tries to "sell" their project to fellow teachers and other interested parties to.
One of the ideas that came up was holding a pumpkin festival. The best thing about these programs is that gardening combines ecological and social aspects.
To make the city Neumarkt even "greener", the pupils participated in the tree planting.
Energy efficiency, climate and environmental protection
Mittelschule Weinberger has a small photovoltaic system with visualization for it in the school hall, so that savings etc. can be followed always.
Pupils learned about the ecological footprint and watched the movie "Power to Change". In the sixth classes Water Day took place.
Between the teachers,only Fairtrade coffee and 100% recycled. The city pays the largest part of the recycled paper. It was very impressive to find that no white paper is being used.The school is also a role model in waste separation. Theyeducate waste experts which learn a lot about separation, energy, cleanliness, waste bins etc.
Once a week there is an environmental dayorganised by the facility manager, who offers them vegetarian food from the region.
They also have bat boxes on the roof of the schools to offershelter to the bats.
And we were also told about some future school project ideas.
MrGmeiner willstart a project “School Bees”with a former student who is a beekeeper now. Moreover Mr Schmitz wants to cycle through the Alps with his pupils.
They have a music class called rock band class.They don’t only learn how to deal withinstruments, but they learn a specific song that they already played at a concert after half a year.
Pupils do not only get job positions to learn to be responsible for certain things, some of them even get rewarded for their dedication. Sustainably committed pupils are honored with a certificate "Thanks for environmental behavior". Trained pupils are allowed togivefurther training to other pupils.
Why the Middle School Weinberger is so successful
As part of their school philosophy, Mittelschule Weinberger tries to implement sustainability in micro-projects. Thus, each class or each teacher has a different project. So different interests of different individuals and teachers can meet and give great results. The headmaster, Mrs. Zeitler, creates a room which provides space for projects that are voluntary but are very well perceived and honored by the teachers.
The duration and extent of the projects are different.There are one day projects and even 3 year projects, but every teacher is involved in some way.
The challenge that has to be managed with is making the issue of sustainability and environmental thinking for young people interesting.This worked well with the Solar Taxi,but is a little more difficult with the school-world-shop.
Projects are funded by school fees, practice for secondary schools, prizes won and the support from the town. There are also some support from the the Ministry of Culture and the Economy. The school is open to ideas and sustainability.
We are really pleased with what is being done at this school and we wish them all the best of luck.