Sustainability in Action: Environmental Initiatives at OCDSB Schools

Sustainability in Action: Environmental Initiatives at OCDSB Schools
Posted on 04/26/2023
In April, schools celebrated Earth Day, learning and reflecting on the actions we can all take to build a Culture of Social Responsibility in the OCDSB and beyond. Each day, students and staff are taking steps to minimize our impact on the environment through class projects, school clubs, and more. Environmental sustainability is also a key focus for our facilities. To learn more about the work being done across the District, read our Earth Day update.

We caught up with four schools to hear about their environmental initiatives and see how students and staff are working together to take care of the planet.

Fisher Park Students Design Award-Winning Sustainability Solutions

Sustainability Projects

Grade 8 science students at Fisher Park Public School received the Ciena Solutions Challenge Sustainability Award. This global challenge invites middle and high school students to design solutions that address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their communities. Students in Meghan Polowin’s class tackled the question, “What can we design and build to help with the SDGs that uses hydraulics or pneumatics?” Each group researched and selected a goal to focus on. They created models of their inventions, primarily using recycled materials. After four weeks of building and testing their designs, students shared their learning with the class. 

Their creative solutions included a hydraulic-powered arm to pick up litter, a hydraulic-powered solar panel, a crane to build infrastructure in sustainable cities, a wheelchair that rises and lowers, a windmill, a tool that removes trash from the ocean, and a garbage crusher that turns recyclable materials into bricks for building homes. Visit the Solutions Challenge website to learn more and see videos of each project!

Re-Imagining Recycling at Ridgemont High School

Ridgemont High School’s Students for Change club implemented a new blue bin recycling system. They placed a series of recycling stations in common areas throughout the school. By placing these bins in the areas where most recyclable items are used, rather than in classrooms, this new system encourages as many items as possible to be recycled.


“We as a community work hard to contribute to a healthier environment. For Ridgemont High School students, implementing blue bins became an environmental initiative of ours – especially after our school had recently received vending machines filled with recyclable bottles to drink out of. We persevere and are dedicated to ensuring everything is properly sorted and recycled. Let’s continue to make changes and keep our planet a clean one!” - Kathi M. (student)

Climate Change Conversations at Brookfield High School

Brookfield Environmental Projects

Brookfield High School students are collaborating on a project to gain insight into climate change across the globe. Grade 10 students researched and designed a display showing how different countries contribute to and are affected by climate change. Subsequent classes joined the project by adding their analyses to the map. “This has led to some meaningful conversations,” says teacher Erin Madon. “For example, the students discovered that countries close to the equator will be more affected than more temperate regions, and many countries who are not substantially contributing to the issue stand to be most affected.”

Students also engaged in discussions about environmental issues in their local community and the steps they can take to reduce their footprint. Recently, Science classes and the school's Eco Team met with the OCDSB’s Environmental Management Coordinator to talk about Ontario's electricity grid and energy mix, as well as how garbage is handled in Ottawa.

Chapman Mills Students Win Walking Challenge

Winter Walk Challenge

Chapman Mills Public School students won first place in the Hop! Winter Walk Month Challenge organized by the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority in partnership with EnviroCentre. Sixty Kindergarten students walked a total of 1,738 km in February – that’s like walking from Ottawa to Nova Scotia! Each student walked around 1 km per day at school, while learning about how active transportation helps avert greenhouse gas emissions. Their efforts earned the class a $100 prize, which was used to purchase environmentally friendly toys for their classroom. 

The students enjoyed helping the planet so much that they continued to collaborate on other eco-friendly projects. They have been planting vegetables, picking up litter in the schoolyard and outdoor education space, and learning ways to be more environmentally friendly. They are also now participating in the Spring into Spring Hop! challenge, and have set a goal to double their daily distance to 2 km per student. Little steps make a big impact!

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