E-Mining@School; A cross-curricular initiative to embed sustainability in the junior cycle curriculum

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Kiely, Lisa
Sherry, Jude
Fitzpatrick, Colin
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University College Cork
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Secondary level education in Ireland is going through a major transition with the introduction of the new Junior Cycle programme. For the first time sustainability is being embedded into every subject and teachers have been given the opportunity, and flexibility to create their own curriculum. Addressing this, 8 teachers at Castletroy College worked collaboratively on the “E-Mining@School” project to incorporate sustainability into their subjects’ curriculum using an ambitious multidisciplinary approach. This approach attempted to connect sustainability to the student’s everyday lives through the product that teenagers covet the most; their smartphones.The project developed a collaborative cross- curriculum pilot that explored the common theme of ‘urban mining of e-waste for Critical Raw Materials (CRMs)’ and the teachers integrated this common theme into the curriculum of 5 subjects that included Science, Geography, Business, Technology, and Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE) that would be delivered concurrently. The pilot ran for 4 weeks, beginning at the end of January 2019. A cohort of 220 2nd year students attended 60 lessons over all 5 subjects. 24 teachers delivered these lessons and each student received, on average, over 38 hours of lessons. The project culminated in a public WEEE collection event that recovered over 11 tonnes of WEEE that was sent for recycling. The second running took place in the Spring of 2020 and it is planned to continue it as an annual endeavour. The pilot demonstrated to students the value of the resources used in their electronic products and the challenges of finite resource scarcity. It showed them not only where their stuff came from but also where it goes when they thought it thrown it away. Through the project students became familiar with and champions of the Circular Economy which was very evident in the WEEE collection event. The project was also the first occasion for the teachers to collaborate on a cross-curricular approach to secondary education and the paper includes findings on this topic.
Engineering education , Sustainability , Cross-curricular , Secondary education , Ireland , Junior Cycle programme , E-Mining@School project , WEEE , Recycling , Circular economy
Kiely, L., Sherry, J. and Fitzpatrick, C. (2021) ‘E-Mining@School; A cross-curricular initiative to embed sustainability in the junior cycle curriculum’, EESD2021: Proceedings of the 10th Engineering Education for Sustainable Development Conference, 'Building Flourishing Communities', University College Cork, Ireland, 14-16 June.