Year 9 STEAM-4-Sustainability students have been expanding their horizons by engaging directly with the concept of ‘Circular Economies’, using plastics recycling to create their own design products. The program began with an introduction to environmental issues which this year focussed on climate change and the impacts of global warming, ocean acidification and related processes. Their exploration of these areas was mediated through experiential learning activities that combined experimental investigations with the application of principles of engineering design. In the second phase of the program, students were introduced to the the emerging circular economy in the plastics industry with the opportunity to develop their own circular design projects which they pursued over a number of weeks as they learned the principles and techniques involved in recycling, remodelling, cutting and shaping their own projects.
A feature of the project were two visits from our Artist in Residence Bill Vanhagen. Bill stepped them through some of the more advanced processes employed by local plastics recycling specialists, Precious Plastics, in the production of recycled plastic products for commercial enterprise. Country Road are currently working with Precious Plastics to produce their own range of recycled plastic products. Converse have also engaged Precious Plastics to facilitate the fitout of the Converse store in Fitzroy:
In 2024, we are hoping to expand the program to include greater emphasis on the environmental issues surrounding the production of disposable plastic products, as well as onsite visits to Precious Plastics and other locations. We also hope to begin building our store of equipment for plastics recycling to enhance the production of plastic design products produced by students.
Julie Harris-Wetherbee, Program Leader – Experiential Learning and Sustainable Practices
Matt Scupin, Product Design and Technology Teacher
Feature image: Bill Vanhagen, Artist in Residence, guides students in the use of plastics recycling equipment from Precious Plastics.