This article illustrates how fifth grade students approached the PYP exhibition under the transdisciplinary theme Sharing the planet and commenced a campaign called F.O.O.D. (Food Out Of Dustbin) to address a global hunger issue.
“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi
Through this year’s PYP exhibition, the fifth graders of Pathways School Noida dared to be the change they wanted to see around them.
Our transdisciplinary theme was Sharing the planet under which students collaboratively chose to inquire into ‘irresponsible use of spaces’, a global burning issue. While the rest of the class was inquiring into numerous issues such as unplanned construction, waste management, destruction of habitats, traffic congestion, pollution, etc; there were four girls who set their eyes on something different.
A bulletin board in the school cafeteria caught their attention. “The food you wasted yesterday could have fed 315 children”. These girls began tracking the daily count of food that was being wasted, well before the actual PYP exhibition work commenced. Each day the count was rising and the girls were perhaps the only ones to notice it.
When we formulated the central idea with the whole class and looked at the sub-issues for groups, the girls broke their silence and approached me with a question… “Miss, food wastage is also an issue which many countries are facing and it falls under the theme Sharing the planet. Can we not take this up as our exhibition issue?” I was deeply touched by their thinking and felt proud of them for pursuing an issue more visible and alarming to them.
After some discussion with the school heads, we allowed the girls to formulate their own central idea and lines of inquiry. The central idea they developed was: Our attitude towards food can help reduce hunger. This idea was totally influenced by the bulletin board hanging in the cafeteria. Besides looking at the ‘consumption’ level, they researched how food is wasted on other levels such as production, storage, transport, cooking, etc. After conducting initial research, they began a series of action.
Since they saw so many students just throwing food in the bin which resulted in a rise in the waste count, they started a campaign called F.O.O.D. (Food Out Of Dustbin). They designed posters, made announcements at the assembly, went to classrooms to sensitize children and stood near the dustbins to remind people about the situation in the world and to not waste food. It was not easy for them but they persevered. Soon grade 2 students who were inquiring into ‘earth’s natural resources’ also joined the campaign and stood at the plate counter to stop children from wasting food. The positive influence was seen, acknowledged and appreciated by many!
In order to find out why so many people waste food, they created an online Google Form survey and passed it around to the whole school. The report was then shared with the school director so that suggested action could be taken.
One of the group members wrote to her previous school teacher in the United States, asking her how they stop food wastage in their school and if students are involved in this process. She received a quick response explaining the ways their caterers adopt certain methods to reduce the wastage at the cooking level. This information was passed on to our school caterers so that they can also adopt these methods.
Through their consistent efforts for over a month, the cafeteria wastage count dropped from the highest 315 in February to 70 at the end of March. The students concluded that “if we all realize our responsibility towards food and stop wasting it, then there will be no shortage and perhaps less hungry people on this planet”.
The real success of a PYP exhibition lies with the way students connect with the issue and work towards bringing about a change. This time at Pathways School Noida, they did and with great success!
Vandana has been a primary educator for the last 13 years in international schools from New Delhi to Tokyo and believes in good pedagogical practices and keeping her children happy and excited about every single moment of the day.