Part of the job expectations of the Sustainability & Service Learning Coordinator is to allow our community to become involved in the development of natural spaces, particularly for learning. A big component of that is the recognition that a school is not merely a building. It can serve as a very powerful learning tool, particularly with regard to sustainability.
This past December break the grounds staff of both campuses were working on two projects in this regard:
On the Melawati campus the project was the creation of an interactive garden, initiated by Prep Junior teacher Lisa Nazim. An Annual Fund donation allowed the construction of the foundation and, over the course of this semester, the students in the Prep classes will be helping to plant appropriate plants that will highlight natural sights and sounds and smells up close and personal. It will take a while to reach the ideal set up, largely due to the learning component of the project, which is the direct involvement of our 4 and 5 year olds. But once up and running it should be a perfect model of the marriage of space and learning!
On Ampang the break brought with it the building of a learning space (balcony) over the central stream in the back parking lot. On several visits by environmental experts this area was identified as an ieal on-campus water-based learning space. For anyone taking a stroll to that area (does anyone do that?) we've allowed an area for water quality measurement and observation. The space, if all goes to plan, will be adopted by our 7th grade Earth Science classes as part of the River Ranger program in the Klang Valley. The HS environmental studies classes will establish an action plan on how to best 're-naturalize' the space through the addition of plants that will give the area a more natural look, and hopefully invite insects and birds to the space. The parking spaces might also benefit from more natural shade.
People who are eager to see things finished immediately might find the process a bit frustrating. But learning, particularly with nature, has to be done in time. Certainly the marriage of learning and physical outdoor space is no simple task. But we hope that with the engagement of students in planting, identifying and supporting existing micro-ecosystems, and participating in water quality testing, there is much to be learnt in slowing down the process to real time, natural time. It's as beautiful as sitting back and watching things grow... young minds and natural splendor simultaneously.