Students at St Mary – St Joseph Catholic Primary School Maroubra are doing their part to make the world a better place after completing a self-guided project that saw them design and build a series of sustainable garden beds for their school.

Following a planning process, which involved using a CAD (Computer-aided design) program and a 3D printer, students used old and unwanted timber sourced from local businesses to make the garden beds.

The program was first born out of a brainstorming session among the students who then engaged in inquiry-based learning to help bring their concepts to life.

Students used a CAD program as part of the design process.

Once designs were sketched on paper, the students created a prototype using paddle pop sticks before learning how to use a CAD program to model their design which were then 3D printed to test for any design flaws.

Guided by STEM teacher, Mark Chaloner, the students then carefully constructed the garden beds which they will now fill with plants and herbs once school returns.

“We wanted to make the project as hands-on as possible to allow the students to learn through their experiences,” Mr Chaloner said.

The project aims

The project aimed to improve the school community’s attitude towards sustainability by combating five of the main environmental issues affecting our planet: climate change, habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, food insecurity, and air and water pollution.

It also spoke to one of the school’s key improvement strategies which is to “Build whole school understanding of the general capabilities and global citizenship to empower students to live out the school motto of Strength and Gentleness and contribute to a more sustainable and ethical future.”

All hands on deck!

Importance of student ownership

Mr Chaloner said the students were incredibly enthusiastic about the practical nature of the project.

“The fact that the project was something that they developed themselves meant that they had ownership over it, they were able to turn their idea into a reality,” Mr Chaloner said.

“I think this was the main factor that generated excitement for the students, as well as getting to use some power tools!”

“I was very impressed with the quality of the designs that the students produced,” Mr Chaloner said.

“It was awesome to see the students working collaboratively to design a garden bed that would be strong enough to hold the volume of the soil, but also achievable for us to build with the materials that we had.

“Students critiqued each other’s designs and shared ideas to develop the final product – it was a whole group effort.”