The Y5s were in the final week of their STP unit of inquiry. When I asked them what they could do right now to make environmentally sustainable choices, they gave me some effective strategies that could be implemented immediately, and easily. Together, we came up with the ideas below.
The ideas written in purple were mine so students could get an idea of what I was looking for. BTW I told them I knew that I could shower in less than 3.32 minutes since I play my favourite song before I get in the shower, and it's still playing when I am finished!
Since this was the end of the UOI, they had accumulated quite some knowledge at the end of 6 weeks, in addition to their existing prior knowledge. I wanted to challenge all of this by discussing the practice of freeganism with them.
Freeganism is when people outright reject consumerism and obtain their food, and sometimes other non-perishable consumer goods, even electronics and furniture, by taking those that others that have rejected, thrown out or deemed useless. A more common, and direct, term would be "dumpster diving".
I showed students three videos.
1) A Freegan, named Daniel Tay, in Singapore who manages to lack nothing in food or goods, by taking those food items that have been thrown out by vendors or even excess food, "leftovers" essentially, from his neighbours. In some cases, he barters cooked food, For Daniel, Freeganism was the salvation to many, if not all, of his financial suffering, after he had tried many other coping strategies. He also talks about health and safety issues of Freeganism, the stigma of it from friends and family, and how he has turned his this unique lifestyle into a charitable endeavor.
2) A TedTalk by Daniel at the Singapore Polytechnic. In one year, he spends only $8.00SGD on food and $300.00SGD a month for other expenses. This is where he speaks quite eloquently, practically, and humorously, about the virtues of Freeganism in world that is obsessed with consumerism, and surviving in one of the most expensive cities in the world, Singapore. One unexpected benefit of the sharing of food, was the friendship and generosity of those in his community.
3) A Freegan tour of New York City, a city reputed for its high cost of living.
Here are those videos.
After viewing these videos, students were intrigued, inspired and puzzled by the concept of Freeganism. Some comments were:
- why is there so much wasted food that is still edible
- how can distribution be improved so that those who need food, but cannot afford it, get it
- what motivates people to become Freegans
- would we do this? Why?
I admitted that I have taken things from the recycling area of my condo, and even showed some Korean books I saved from the garbage. Not only were they high quality hardcover books, but they were related to many of our UOIs and useful to many of our Korean students who were EAL students.
Freeganism definitely gave the Y5s some food for thought.
As the Ks are studying the differences between living and non-living things, I thought yeast (living), and it's crucial role in making bread (non-living) would be an authentic connection to their daily lives. I used this recipe which I bake weekly at home. There are 3 kindergarten classes in our school.
First I showed a video on how we make yeast water (see below). We set out to trap the yeast on top of and inside the dates, as well as in the air, in a bottle of water. To prove to students that yeast is a living thing, I connected it's need for oxygen, like us, by opening the bottle of water twice a day. This is also to prevent the buildup of gas, that could explode, if left unopened for long periods.
We also fed sugar to the yeast and shook it to ensure that sugar dissolved. Again the connection to humans is that we also need food, and sometimes we also eat sugar.
We left the yeast water for 5 days so that the students could see the visual difference as the yeast grew inside.
Last year, I baked bread with instant yeast with the Ks, but to emphasise how yeast is a living thing that needs to be fed, to breathe and to be shaken, I thought yeast water would demonstrate this more effectively. It took time for yeast to grow, about 5 days. The students could see and smell this. You can see how the yeast developed in the photos above.
It took about a week to do this:
Yeast water - 5 days
Starter dough (ferment in fridge overnight) - 1 day
Bread dough (ferment in fridge overnight) - 1 day
Bake bread, cool and serve - 1/2 a day
If you do this, remember to take the yeast water home over the weekend to avoid an exploding bottle. To make it easier, you could also make the starter dough at home, and then bring it to school to make the final dough.
Our baked loaf looked fabulous, but due to the oven at school, I found the inside of the bread a bit dense, though it was thoroughly baked, as indicated by the absence of any residue when I cut the bread.
The Ks loved eating the bread, gained confidence with their baking skills, and maybe even learned a thing or two about living and non-living things.