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This month, we have been putting a spotlight on the activities of several SCIS member schools and their sustainability initiatives in the run-up to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).  

We are continuing this theme in this blog, where we hear from Edinburgh Montessori Arts School (EMAS) and International School Aberdeen (ISA). Ian Edwards, Botanist at EMAS, discusses how sustainability can be taught through experiential education, while ISA Head of School Nick Little explains how they have already seen their efforts rewarded in the NESCAN COP26 Schools Competition.  

Read on to find out more about what EMAS and ISA are doing to highlight the need for climate action... 


Sustainability and future thinking through experiential education 

By Ian Edwards, Botanist, EMAS 

The children and young people at Edinburgh Montessori Arts School have been keen to turn their passion for the environment into positive actions that contribute towards mitigating climate change and preventing the loss of biodiversity.   

During Science for Survival lessons, we have covered the role of trees in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, planted more than 200 native trees and established a small tree nursery. The school is fortunate to have stewardship of a former paddock where the current aim is to create greater biodiversity. A variety of different habitats, including short grass, wildflower meadow, bee and butterfly border, hedgerow, orchard and shelterbelt, are now developing and an array of wildlife, from buzzards to roe deer, flourish within the wilder landscape.   

The children have been part of this transition, both as observers and participants, learning to understand, appreciate, and care for nature in and around their school grounds.  

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The children have also discovered that it is possible to reduce carbon emissions and increase their health by growing some of the food they consume and gathering and eating wild foods.   

Within dedicated polytunnels and raised beds, they have produced a variety of salad crops, herbs and vegetables, grown their own wheat and established an orchard with a selection of local apples and pear varieties. The children have been involved in all stages of production, from sowing seed to harvesting, processing and cooking the fruits of their labour.

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There are ambitious plans to expand and develop the growing garden and micro-enterprise in the future. The ultimate aim of these projects is to grow confident, self-reliant young people who appreciate their impact on the planet, understand how they can reduce their carbon footprint and strive to influence others through example.   


ISA recognised as a sustainability leader  

By Head of School, Nick Little  

Earlier this year, The International School Aberdeen participated in the NESCAN COP26 Schools Competition with both our Primary and Secondary School pupils participating.   

Pupils rose to the challenge, and we were delighted and hugely proud that our pupils won in both the Primary and Secondary categories.  

Our pupils were excited to get involved by producing entries that describe what their ideal sustainable place to live, work and play should look like in 10 years, to help people to imagine what our communities could be like and the big changes that are coming.  

Minecraft project COP26 ISA 1 

They produced a large variety of entries, from stories, poems, songs, 3D models to virtual reality interactive stories and dynamic games. For example, some of our Grade 7 students won the main prize in the COP26 School Competition with their digital creation – a Minecraft video entitled “Our Sustainable City”. They used skills learned in computing and science classes to put together an inspiring piece of work that included a broad range of issues such as how people will travel in 2030, how energy-efficient buildings are designed and renewable energy sources will be used.  

Other school students wrote the lyrics to a rap song about all that their generation should have done by 2031 to live a more sustainable planet such as recycling, composting food, buying from charity shops, more staycations and fewer overseas vacations to reduce their carbon footprint.   

This was a student-led project and we are most proud of our students’ awareness of the climate change movement and taking action to have a voice in this globalised world. You can view all entries at our ISA COP26 website.

3D model Eco island ISA COP26 1  

Each winner receives certificates and family tickets to Aberdeen Science Centre, while the ISA library receives a copy of the book Kids Fight Climate Change: Act now to be a #2minutesuperhero by Martin Dorey. We extend our congratulations to all the teachers and parents involved. 

This opportunity helped our teachers bring COP26, and the issues it seeks to address, to life for our students and the whole school community, creating a lasting legacy for this future generation. 


Many thanks to Ian Edwards of EMAS and Nick Little of ISA for their contribution to this blog. 


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