Deplastify the Planet – 1st students’ exchange in Austria
From the 11th – 18th February 2023 the BG/BRG Judenburg hosted the first students’ exchange for the EU-project “Let’s deplastify the Planet”. 29 Austrian students welcomed 29 students from Belgium, Coratia, Portugal, Spain and Aruba (Netherlands). The main topics of this exchange were raising awareness of the negative impact of plastic on the environment and finding strategies how to reduce and avoid plastic trash in general. This students exchange was implemented within the framework of the Erasmus+ project “Deplastify the Planet” ( https://letschallengethefu.wixsite.com/deplastifytheplanet1 ) coordinated by the belge coordinating school Sint-Gummarus High School represented by Eva Peeters and Johan Bosmans.
The responsible teachers of the BG/BRG Judenburg Mag.a Ilse Prenn and Mag. Bernd Fiechtl had prepared an extensive programme including a wide range of social, linguistic, cultural, ecological and sports activities. All participants arrived on Saturday, 11th February 2023 using ecological means of transport (either train or bus). All exchange students were welcomed by Austrian families, who also accommodated all exchange students in their homes.
Sunday, 12th February 2023
The first day included different ice-breaking activities where students got to know each other. Students were separated in two groups and carried out different sports activities. These activities were led by the sports teachers Mag.a Ulrike Schlacher and Mag.a Birgit Figlhuber. After the first getting to know activities the Austrian coordinators introduced all participants and teaches to the programme of the week and how to use the digital platform https://padlet.com/letschallengethefuture/dptp-1st-students-meeting-in-austria-zk2c4rb705r96fke for a proper and smooth communication during the project week.
Monday, 13th February 2023
On the morning of the second day students and teachers worked on the preparation of the comic book, which is a main product of this project. The activities had been prepared by the belge project partner in cooperation with belge publisher “Sprenger”. The workshop was led by the two teachers Kristoph Decapmaker and Hans Smith of the Sint-Gummarus High School. The teachers introduced all students to the main topic of the comic book:
“The world’s future is more threatened than ever! There’s a big villain who has evil plans to spread more plastics around the world – and he has the power, the money, and the team to do so. He just loves plastics in all colours, and he dreams of a world that simply drowns in the material. The clock is ticking : it’s high time to stop him!
To turn the tide, our heroes need to combine their talents and superpowers. They need to travel around the world – visiting Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Aruba, and Austria – to team up and collect clues about how they can stop the villain and save the world. In each country, they face another challenge involving the impact of plastics. How will their journey go? How will they stop the villain? It’s up to you!”
The students formed 10 teams of 6 students and each team developed one character. Participating teachers supported students to understand the tasks and to start working. Students created on overall:
· 6 heroes, one from each country (Austria, Croatia, Portugal, Spain, Aruba, Belgium)
· 1 boss / scientist / wise person to bring together, help and guide the 6 heroes
· 1 big villain
· 2 sidekicks of the villain
Additionally they defined the identity of their character in detail by answering the following questions:
· What’s the name of your character?
· What are the country-specific characteristics of your character?
· Define 2 strengths of your character.
· Define 2 weaknesses of your character.
· Define 1 unique superpower of your character – how will your character make the difference? Bear in mind that each character in the team of heroes needs to have another type of superpower.
· What drives your character? Why does your character want to save the world from plastics?
At eleven o’clock representatives of the Sprenger publishing house and the belge coordinator Eva Peeters joined the project virtually meeting all groups one by one. All groups presented their outcomes and their characters online.
In the afternoon the Vice-Mayor of Judenburg Mag. Thorsten Wohlesser had invited all Europan and Austrian delegations for a reception at the city tower. In his welcoming speech he pointed out the importance of students’ exchanges for the BG/BRG Judenburg but also for Judenburg.
In the evening the hosts invited all project partners to join the official teachers’ meeting in order to discuss the project in more detail and to enjoy some Styrian culinary specialities
Tuesday, 14th February 2023
On that day all delegations went by bus to the “Zotter” chocolate factory. This factory was chosen because ecological chocolate is sustainably produced there. At the beginning of the tour at the factory all participants got an introduction on how cocoa beans are harvested and transported reducing the eco-footprint. In the second part of this introduction students and teachers got an overview how the factory is run and how organic and sustainable chocolate is produced on site. After this introduction on chocolate production all delegations had the opportunity to walk through the factory tasting different types of chocolate. Finally, the group even had the opportunity to take a picture with the owner of the factory.
After the visit of the factory all partners returned to Graz where students and teachers had some time to explore the city: Hauptplatz (main square), Schlossberg (castle hill), Rathaus (city hall), Landhaus (regional government), Murinsel (island in the river Mur), Kunsthaus (art gallery) etc. All participants also had time to eat lunch during this break.
The final activity of that day was the visit of the nationally operating plastic selecting and recycling company “Saubermacher” ( https://saubermacher.at/en/company/saubermacher-eco-tours/ ). There all students and teacher could grasp a glimpse behind the scenes of the recycling industry and to see how Saubermacher works. As a partner in ‘Erlebniswelt Wirtschaft’, they offered students and teachers an exciting glimpse into the world of recycling and waste recovery. The automatic plastics sorting plant processes around 32,000 tonnes of packaging waste every year. The main task here is to segregate lightweight packaging waste from aluminium cans and tetra-pack beverage cartons. This involves a number of technologies, including infra-red sensing and colour recognition devices. The plant sorts and processes plastic packaging waste from all over Styria, as well as Carinthia and Vienna. More than 80% of the material received at the plant is returned to an environmentally-friendly materials cycle.
Wednesday, 15th February 2023
In the morning students and teachers continued working on the comic book. After finishing writing description of different characters students had the opportunity to draw sketches of their heroes. In an exhibition the sketches and drawings were presented and discussed among teachers and students.
After the morning session all students and teachers had lunch at school.
In the afternoon a selection of four workshops (duration one hour each) had been prepared by the organisers.
Workshop 1 – Stadtwerke Judenburg (local waste management company)
The invited expert (Mag.a Renate Auinger)on local waste management presented who the local waste management company collects waste in the region, how and where it is transported. Ideas how to reduce, collect, avoid, use and recyle plastic(waste) were collected ( https://stadtwerke.co.at/11801-2/ ).
Workshop 2 – Abfallwirtschaftsverband (regional waste management asscociation)
The invited expert (Lisa Tatschl, BA) elaborated and explained different types of plastic. She had brought along a wide range of plastic samples which were analysed in the workshop according to their components. In the final step students had to decide if their samples could be defined as plastic recycling waste and to which type of plastic their samples belonged to.
Workshop 3 – Sustainable reuse of bottles
The arts teacher Mag.a Katja Heiden showed students how to use one way plastic bottle can be upcycled and transformed into artistic colouful containers used as wrappings for presents. First students had to cut used plastic bottles into halves. The lower half of the bottle was covered with colourful napkins and gloss paint. After a period of drying cuts were made on the top the lower half of the bottle, so that the created stripes could be folded inward in order to create the final container.
Workshop 4 – Organic plastic production
In this workshop, led by Mag.a Stefanie Hoffellner, students were introduced to how to create organic plastic using natural starch, deionized water, glycerin and food colouring.
Thursday, 16th February 2023
On Thursday, exchanges students joined their hosts in class and participated two regular lessons in the morning.
At 10.00 o’clock two further workshops were held.
Activity 1: Strategies how to reduce plastic (Mag.a Ilse Prenn / Mag.a Susanne)
In this activity students got input on how to reduced, recycle and avoid plastic. Ideas were collected and discussed how to implement these strategies in daily life.
Activity 2: Production of Organic Soap (Mag. Bernd Fiechtl / Mag. Florian Kaltenegger)
In this workshop organic soap was produced using different types of oils, sodium carbonate, organic perfumes etc.
In the evening the project organisers had invited all students, teachers, families and also external personalities like the regional manager of the school authorities and the Vice-Mayor of Judenburg to participate in the final show of the project.
This show included the following programme: (https://padlet.com/letschallengethefuture/dptp-1st-students-meeting-in-austria-zk2c4rb705r96fke/wish/2459904069)
EVENING PROGRAMME „DEPLASTIFY THE PLANET“
Thursday, 16th February 2023
• Greeting of the Hosts
• Mag.a Ursula Schriefl (Principal of the BG/BRG Judenburg)
• Mag. Thorsten Wohlesser (Vice-Mayor of Judenburg)
• Roman Scheuerer (RM of the Styrian School Authorities)
• Coordinator (Belgium)
Presentation of the Projects
• „Deplastify the Planet Activities“
• „How to Reduce Plastic at BG/BRG Judenburg“• „SDG in Judenburg“
• „Plastic Whale“
Backflash „Project Week“
Delivery of Award „Ambassador School of the European Union“
Delivery of Certificates of Participation „Deplastify the Planet“
Friday, 17th February 2023
The project week came to an end where all students gave online feedback about the whole project week. The first online feedback session has been prepared by the the host in order to find out more about: management and organisation of the travels, feedback on the satisfaction of the quality and contents of the project activities and host families, degree of acquired skills during the week. The second feedback had been prepared by the project coordinator asking about meaningfulness of the contents, satisfaction of students and organisation of the trip.
The project week was finalised with the presentations of partnerschools and activities each delegation had carried out until the start of the project week.
The Erasmus+ coordinators Mag.a Ilse Prenn and Mag. Bernd Fiechtl thank all colleagues for making this extraordinary project possible. For their special support and engagement, we thank:
All the teachers and students of the BG/BRG Judenburg that have participated in the activities during the project week. Especially:
Principal Mag.a Ursula Schriefl
Mag. a Doris Wölfer and Mag. Martin Obermaier (Choir and Band)
Mag. a Ulrike Schlacher / Mag. a Birgit Figlhuber (Sport Workshops)
Mag. Günter Steiner, Mag. Johannes Thaler (Plastic-Whale)
Mag. a Eva Gergely / Mag. Andreas Bärnthaler (Eco-Projects)
Mag. a Susanne Stadler / Mag. a Ilse Prenn / Mag. Florian Kaltenegger (Workshops)
Mag. Katja Heiden (Plastic-Competitions)
Mag. Ernst Kandler (Management of teachers/class rooms)
Official Project Website: https://letschallengethefu.wixsite.com/deplastifytheplanet1
Video 1: https://youtu.be/AWYWR24QgDA
Viedo 2: https://youtu.be/Zw785w-2Ed4
Padlet for the students exchange: https://padlet.com/letschallengethefuture/dptp-1st-students-meeting-in-austria-zk2c4rb705r96fke
Website for students exchanges: https://letschallengethefu.wixsite.com/deplastifytheplanet1/exchanges
Prof. Mag. Bernd Fiechtl