Travellers’ Trails: An Exciting Journey in Sustainability for Secondary Students
A project developed by the Centre for eCommerce and Communications (CeCC) at the University of Ballarat visualising staff commuter patterns has recently been adapted and trialled as a classroom exercise for collecting sustainability data by local secondary school students.
The concept of “Travellers’ Trails” expands upon the technical development underlying the original UB commute project to form a foundation for a learning exercise for Year 9 – 11 students. One of the aims of the Travellers’ Trails was to extend students understanding of the impact of different modes of travel on carbon emissions, relevant to their school community. The project concept and pilot has involved collaboration between CeCC, the School of Science, IT and Engineering (SITE) and IBM.
A prototype of Travellers’ Trails was piloted at the IBM EXITE camp in August this year. The camp showcases innovations in information technology for Year 10 girls attending secondary schools in the region. During the pilot, students logged their journeys to and from the camp using their mobile phones. The data was then collated and displayed on an interactive, online map which also outlined data about carbon emissions. The website allowed students to quickly see which travel methods had the greatest impact and carbon emissions. Students were able to edit carbon and passenger assumptions for different vehicle types to understand differences in CO2 output.
Feedback from students and teachers participating in the pilot was extremely positive. Students reported that the Travellers’ Trails had enhanced their understanding of the impacts of their travel on the environment. As well, the Travellers’ Trails provided an opportunity to increase students’ exposure to ICT systems - and to provide them with a deeper understanding of how social media, technology and data analysis can be used for positive gain, across the community.
There is much potential for this project to be adopted in secondary schools across Victoria; already plans are underway for another pilot, this time with four schools across Victoria to further assist with refining the tool. Additional features to complement the Travellers’ Trails are also in the pipeline and include establishing a dedicated project website complemented by teacher resources to facilitate student participation in data gathering. Other resources are also being planned to generate further discussion and implement actions for reducing the school carbon footprint. Once established the project could be developed for use in all schools as a diverse and valuable learning tool and school- community resource that has wide appeal for a range of senior students in disciplines including maths, science and of course, information technology.