November 16, 2021

COP in the Curriculum

As the curriculum continues to reflect the topical issue of environmentalism, across the course of COP, subject departments have come together to show the collective impact that education plays in climate awareness and inciting change.

Launching a student-led exhibition during the second week of COP26, research projects, presentations and artwork created in response to the globally recognised event, were unveiled to the community.

As part of their studies on social influence, Lower Sixth Psychology students have been examining how the processes of conformity and obedience can lead to social change around climate activism.

Becky and Izzy explained, “Climate change activism started out as a minority but has exponentially spread into recent conversations and media.” In their research they considered the cognitive conflict, consistency of position, the augmentation principle and the snowball effect

Head of Psychology, Claire Gulliver, commented “My students have been discussing what behaviours activists are showing that have been found to lead to social change. Following this, they’ve made suggestions about what else can be done to change people’s behaviours.”

Over in the Geography Department, Oliver Staines and his team continue to teach Year 9 an up-to-the-minute scheme of work entitled ‘Climate Breakdown’, which has been developed since late 2019. This cohort will be the third to complete the module. They have investigated climate change in Mozambique, Japan, Brazil and the Maldives, to name a few countries.

Year 8 were tasked with finding ways to make Leighton Park a more sustainable school. The group came up with a variety of practical solutions from installing more solar panels, to using electric taxis and bio busses, to generating electricity through cycling and composting at Oakview.

In Politics, environmental claims have been debunked whilst Fryer looked at the consequences of air travel, the carbon cycle and climate change on both Earth and on Venus in Science.

Recently, Year 9 completed their STEAM project on sustainable housing as part of their CAS programme rotation. The two teams took different approaches. Whilst one group investigated how to make a new-build house more sustainable by including materials like a green roof and solar panels, integrating greenery and adding a vegetable garden to reduce food miles; the other developed a plan for repurposing a local office block for accommodation. Having identified concrete production as a process that creates high levels of CO2, this solution is a more environmentally friendly alternative to the planned demolition and rebuild.

“From this project I learned that it is actually very difficult to build a house really suitable as there are so many aspects to think about and when it comes down to it building homes is very polluting.” reflected Cali, who is now eligible to apply for her British Science Association CREST Award. Elliott echoed, “Houses are hard to design and they take a long time to find a solution that fits the client. I also found out that solar panels make quite a lot of electricity.”

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