From The Junior Secondary
Head of Department
With David Capill
At this year’s Ecofest, you may have noticed the Toolooa State High School STEM Squad being showcased in the Shell QGC marquee. QGC sponsor the Future Makers STEM Challenge each year, and they are always very impressed and proud of the submissions by Toolooa Students. This year, they invited one of our students, Benny, to demonstrate his innovative idea to the public. Benny worked hard to complete and perfect his prototype and make an interesting and interactive display for Ecofest visitors. His space was a huge hit and he did a fantastic job of sharing his love of STEM and showcasing his brilliant idea.
Benny designed an autonomously operated boat that collects rubbish from the surface of rivers, creeks and ocean areas whilst it moves. The autonomous boat can be operated virtually anywhere, allowing it to be deployed where it is needed the most. The boat is powered by solar energy gathered by panels on its roof. This allows the boat to produce no waste itself whilst operating. In addition, the boat has battery storage so that energy can be stored to allow it to operate on a cloudy day and for long periods of time. The boats design evolved around have little to no impact on the environment while removing rubbish. One of the key features to accomplish this is by having the boat only collect the rubbish that is on top of the water’s surface. This allows aquatic environments underneath the boat to remain undisturbed.
Well done Benny!
Gladstone Regional Council – Litter Education Awareness Project (LEAP)
Mid-last year, the Toolooa Junior Leadership Environmental Team took on the Gladstone Council’s LEAP project. This project lasted 12 month and was finalised last week. The project had the following objectives:
- Develop and implement a litter source reduction program in local schools
- Provide resources to participating schools to promote education and awareness of stormwater pollution and litter impacts on the Great Barrier Reef and support the development of future leaders
- Design and install litter traps within existing school stormwater infrastructure
- Installation and servicing of the traps combined with sorting and educational events to provide hands on and practical learning experiences
In Term 3 of 2021, two litter traps were installed here at Toolooa. One in the turn around at the end of our drive way and another near the tuckshop area. Each term, the students attended a sorting event in which they took the collected litter and categorised it by its type. In these sorting events, student learned from GRC experts about the harm that stormwater litter can have on our local environment.
Summary of Findings:
- Total pieces of litter counted: 579
- Top category for all locations, all time, was confectionery (138 pieces), followed by straw wrappers (93), then foil (66).
- Students noted that many of the foil pieces were from 5-gum wrappers
- The location that captured the most litter (by count) was Trap 02 - Adjacent to the tuckshop, with 298 pieces of litter counted over the project.
- The cycle that captured the most litter across all locations, was Cycle 4 (Feb-May 2022), followed by Cycle 2 (Sept-Nov 2021)
- 37 of the available 186 litter categories were detected - this is the least category-diverse result of all 9 Gladstone schools that had drain buddies on school grounds.
The program was a fantastic hands-on opportunity for our Junior Leaders to learn more about how to protect and preserve our environment. Now the leaders are planning on ways to communicate the findings with their peers and implement source reduction programs.
Thank you to the GRC staff, the Cleanwater Group, Tangaroa Blue and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Part Authority (GBRMPA) for providing the fantastic experience for our students.