Today was the class trip (with some of our friends from HG) to the Sustainability Centre near East Meon. We arrived before ten o’clock and split into two groups with the group leaders Stefan and Rachel. The group that went with Stefan looked at the willow system for treating sewage, composting toilets, a bottle greenhouse and how the Sustainability Centre uses solar energy. After swapping with Rachel they spent the second part of the morning learning how to create a willow fence, a very similar technique to one they had learnt at Butser Ancient Farm earlier in the year. There was also an opportunity to create a tree spirit using clay and the natural resources on the woodland floor. Many of the children’s efforts were extremely impressive.
After a leisurely lunch the children split into three groups for a carousel of activities. There was a building activity with Stefan where the children used earth and chalk bags to build a structure with an arch. The arch was built around a tyre and it was important that each bag used touched the tyre and also that it was symmetrical. If the structure was correctly built the archway would support the weight of the children. It did this successfully until Mr Stanley stood on it, then it collapsed!
The next activity was with Janet and this was building a small cob oven. The previous group had made a base out of sand and started adding the clay surround. This was completed by the second group and the final group then smoothed it and gave it the shape of a fish. It looked amazing.
The final activity was a tour of the grounds looking at the different types of building. The children saw a shower block built with straw bales and a lime render. The block had been built on recycled car tiles. Next they looked at a composting toilet and were told exactly how it worked. They also looked at a building made by Ben Law (of Grand Designs fame) where all the building materials came from a radius of five miles.
It was a really good day with a lot of learning before school Grounds Day next Thursday. The children have gained a real insight into sustainable use of materials while really enjoying themselves. some of their own reports will be published over the next couple of weeks.