Faculty of Education

Faculty of Education
Faculty of Education

Recycled Planter Challenge: Winners Announced!

August 27, 2020

By Communications StaffProgress photos of one of the planters

Earlier this spring, families across Ontario (and the world) entered the longest March Break in history. Students were learning remotely for the first time, caregivers were learning to juggle childcare, working from home, and managing the stress of living in a global pandemic. Families were spending more time together and forced to spend that time largely in their own homes. Activities like baking, hiking, and puzzling saw a revival, as low-tech options were sought to pass the time (bonus points if it had educational value!).

Chris Carlton, instructor at the Faculty of Education, along with teacher candidates Rosie Adams and Alex Brassard, saw this as an opportunity to connect families with a simple STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) activity, and went one further - making that activity a province-wide competition. The Recycled Planter Challenge was born and elementary and high school students were challenged to develop, design, and carry out the construction of a planter using household materials.

“The idea is simple,” says Chris. “Students could use seeds or even germinate kitchen scraps to get started. Empty pop bottles, yogurt containers, and coffee cans destined for recycling depots could be diverted and used to create a system to grow these seedlings into something that could, at the very least, provide a healthy snack for the household.”

Entries came in from across Ontario, with students using everything from wine bottles to juice boxes to develop creative solutions for the recycled planters.

Rosie Adams, who helped develop and judge the competition comments, "The creativity, resourcefulness and critical thinking demonstrated by all the students was wonderful to witness. Repurposing of recyclables and kitchen scraps highlights unique ways we can help the environment, especially important for the younger generation to understand since they are inheriting this land."

Entries were divided by age level and judged accordingly. Though each entry was creative and innovative, winners had to be chosen. Winning entries received a $25 Indigo gift card for the student and a $100 Indigo gift card for the student’s school. Prizes were donated by the Queen’s Faculty of Education.

Recycled planter example

Congratulations to:

Primary Division:

Josiah Hill, Birds Creek Public School, Bancroft ON

Junior Division:

Max and Sarah Keir, Grafton Public School, Grafton ON

Ella Pozin, Owen Public School, North York, ON

Senior Division:

MaryJane Keir, Grafton Public School, Grafton ON

Even though students are back to class this fall, Chris hopes to develop more online projects  to build on the success of this one. STEAM challenges like this provide more opportunities for students to showcase their abilities to be scientists and discover and experiment with the world around them. “To see the students go above and beyond the initial challenge and start thinking creatively about the growing process in general was so rewarding. Our goal as teachers is to ignite curiosity and imagination, and I feel like this really happened with this project.”

This project was supported by the Faculty of Education’s Community Initiatives Fund.