A large water drainage sump housing rusted and broken wire fences, filled with rubbish and taken over by one of Australia’s worst and most invasive weeds – the Bridal Creeper, is about to be turned into a magnificent Native Wetlands Habitat with cascading ponds by the kids at Kensington Primary.
Thanks to retired teacher and former member, John Bailey, the team coach and inaugural State Coordinator, provides students in years four to seven with the opportunity to be involved in the Community Problem Solving Program (CmPS) – one component of the Future Problem Solving Program.
The rigorous and highly respected international program, run by passionate volunteer educators, provides students with a wide range of skills and makes them aware that they can have a positive impact on society, explains John.
“Now WA is one of the strongest states involved in this international program. Future Problem Solving was founded in 1974 by the late Dr. E. Paul Torrance. He designed the program as a way of helping capable students think more creatively and productively about critical issues.”
The program can operate as a whole school program, or for large or small groups of students and operates from years one to twelve and is competitive from year six onwards.
Students are saying it has been a life changing experience, the best thing at primary school (apart from their friends) and the they have learnt a lot of valuable skills in writing and presenting to other people – proving just how influential the program can be.
“We’ve just had great news in that our second project has now earned a place in the International Finals in the US in June of this year as well. Two teams from a local state primary school! Both teams (first and second) came within 8 marks of each other (out of over 530 marks awarded).”
First Place went to the students at Kensington who are providing an orphanage in the Philippines with a sustainable food supply via a series of aquaponics systems to improve the physical and mental health of the children in the home, and go some way to alleviate poverty in the community.
Second Place went to the Alive n Hopping – Kensington Community Gardens project which is currently reaching the building stage.
The area is being designed to attract a wide range of native amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, birds and small native animals.
It will feature permanent damp lands, designed to appear as a creek bed – dry in places and wet in places.
“We also decided that we would build an Outdoor Education Centre which the Perth Zoo staff and our teachers can use to educate students from our school, students from other schools and members of the community. There will also be a walkway around the edge of the sump and an amphitheatre extending down into it with a speakers platform amongst the ponds in the bottom of the sump area,” said John.
“We plan on developing an “outdoor classroom” area to allow community presentations and lessons about the environment to be given to students from the school but also to students visiting us from other local schools. The Perth Zoo is helping with curriculum materials and presenters and other key interested people are willing to support us.”
Work on the project is at the two year mark, with the school receiving funding from local government and council which has provided for travel costs.
Other companies have contributed up to $30,000 in labour, equipment, materials, cash and other services.
Only two state schools successfully made it to the National Finals and with no prizes in store – only huge US style trophies and a great deal of personal satisfaction, it looks as though it’s only above and beyond from here at Kensington. For more information on how your school can get involved, visit www.fpsp.org.au