Eco fest 2023, An Eco exhibition by government school students

Eco-Fest 2023 is an environmental event organized by government school students as part of the Schools in Action for Planet project by Pitchandikulam Forest with the support of Tata Communications Ltd through their CSR program. The Eco-fest 2023 was held on March 4, 2023, at Peruthalaivar Kamarajar Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Ambattur. It had a participation of around 400 school students from 12 government schools in Ambattur, Perambur, Kolathur, Villivakkam, Mogappair, Ayappakkam, Vanagram, and Porur. The students displayed various environmental projects and experiments related to climate change, organic food, environmental pollution, water management, and biodiversity, among other topics. There were more than 200 projects that were showcased, with the students enthusiastically explaining about their project to other students and guests. The exposure increased the confidence of the school students and encouraged them to do more. It has been a great hands-on learning experience for government school students.

The Eco-fest 2023 was inaugurated by Pallavi Barua, Asst. Director, Tata Communications Ltd., Harish Kulkarni, Manager, Tata Communications Ltd., Vanitha Rani, HM, Peruthalaivar Kamarajar Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Ambattur, and Joss Brooks, Director, Pitchandikulam Forest, at 10 a.m. on March 4, 2023. The Eco-fest 2023 had workshops for students on arts and crafts like palm leaf weaving, coir making, pottery, origami, toy making, hand spinning, etc. The students participated and learned the craft, and they proudly take their art work to their homes. The students painted on a large screen of cloth where the kids showed their creative side with paints and colours. The venue was decorated with eco-friendly products in an aesthetically pleasing way. The event stage was lightened up by the students with various cultural performances like Therukootu, Silambattam, Villupattu, folk dance, puppet show, Parai music performance, etc. The children reciting Thirukural while performing silambattam and Villupatti (interactive singing performances) on Sustainable Development Goals were eye-catching and unique. Overall, the Eco-fest was an eco-cultural extravaganza with a combination of both learning and fun for government school students. The students will certainly remember this experience for their lifetime.


Ecosystem Jenga

Ecosystem Jenga is a part of the Ecosystem EE session. In this we understood how a perfectly balanced ecosystem is threatened if even one of the organisms is affected. The session started with us explaining what an ecosystem is i.e. a geographical area where living and nonliving elements coexist in nature to form a sustaining bubble. This session was done in two schools, Jai Gopal Garodia and Avvai home with an average of 35 students in each school.

Then we proceeded to bring out the labeled jenga pieces as the students filled with excitement on seeing the colorful blocks.the room was filled with questions and wonder as to what these blocks were as we were arranging them. Then we explained the simple rule of Jenga and how each block had a card that had the same element on them. As they pick a card they will then try to remove the block with that element from the tower without it collapsing. We then explained how that element contributes to the environment and how removing them will affect the ecosystem and what will follow with the imbalance. Ex if they removed rain from the tower the ecosystem will face drought and thus in turn affecting all that follows in the food chain eventually leading to its collapse.

The students took turns removing each element as we kept explaining what would happen and how that element is threatened in todays world.

What we used: Jenga Blocks, Marker, Playing Cards.


Using a marker, write each part of an ecosystem on a Jenga block. 

Brainstorm some native plants, herbivores, omnivores and carnivores and add those to the blocks. Write cards on the same. 

Set up the jenga tower. The original Jenga tower will represent a healthy ecosystem. The order of the blocks should represent a food web. For example, producers such as sunlight, plants, etc. should go near the bottom since they are the source that feeds every other animal. Then smaller animals that feed on those plants should be stacked next. Finally, larger animals that feed on the smaller animals and plants should be near the top.

The students take turns to pick a card and read it aloud, and removes the animal on the tower. Only the block being removed may be touched. Player is not allowed to hold the rest of the stack together while removing the block. Everyone takes turns reading a card and removing that piece from the ecosystem. They can continue to play until the ecosystem collapses. Do not add the piece to the top of the tower.

Now that we learned our actions can have an impact on the environment and may cause extinction. Brainstorm ways to try and rebuild the ecosystem and reintroduce some of the blocks back into the ecosystem.

This game is a representation of how human-caused changes can potentially impact the stability of a whole ecosystem. All parts of an ecosystem are connected and function as a whole. Each factor relies on others for shelter, food, water, etc. When one part of an ecosystem is removed, the other parts have trouble surviving and are eventually removed too.

School Vegetable Garden

A kitchen vegetable garden at Ambattur Government Higher Secondary School was established. The garden was sowed with 4 different seeds of vegetables like lady’s finger, brinjal, tomato and spinach.  Under the guidance of our environmental educator, students were trained on soil quality, soil fertilization, and seeding techniques before planting the vegetable garden. Five students were selected and through their efforts and contribution the kitchen vegetable garden was established. During the process, the students found our dear Farmer’s friend – Earthworms. Students were fascinated to have found earthworms for the first time. It was a happy small discovery and a great experience us.

Tree Plantation

Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest (TDEF) are unique forests that can be found only in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh. Around 60% of trees in TDEF are evergreen. It supports various the life of various birds and animals, in which few are endemic species. They also stabilize the climate and store carbon. On 20th October 2022, a tree plantation drive at Government boys’ High School, Mogappair was conducted. Six trees such as Hura creptans, Barringtonia acutangular, Calophyllum inophyllum, Sterculia foetida, Bauhinia tamentosa and Peltophorum pterocarpum belonging to the Tropical dry evergreen forest were planted. Guided by our Environmental Educator before the plantation, the students were explained about the soil quality, width and height of the pit required for tree plantation. Furthermore, the students were educated on the amount of manure to be added into the pit and the method of soil compaction. Five students were chosen and through their effort and contribution the tree plantation drive was successfully completed.

Session on Plastic Resin Code

Mogappair Government Boys High School students were given training on how to separate plastic using plastic code by our Environment Educators. The students were asked to bring plastic products they use in their daily lives. During the session the plastic products they had brought were dumped together and were sorted and separated using the plastic index. The codes of plastics includes

  1. PET – Polyethylene terephthalate
  2. HDPE – High-density polyethylene
  3. PVC – Polyvinyl chloride
  4. LDPE – Low-density polyethylene
  5. PP – Polypropylene
  6. PS – Polystyrene
  7. O – others

These codes show the consumer which type of plastic resin is used to make the product. Codes 1,2,5 and 6 can be recycled. 4 can be reused and 7 cannot be reused. The awareness of plastics that can be recycled and reused were imparted in students in order to reduce the consumption and pollution made by plastics. The students were surprised to note the code in each of the product that they use in their daily life. They were intrigued and assured that they will reduce the consumption of plastics in their households.

Global Warming

Global warming and climate change are the commonest challenges that has been addressed throughout the world. The young generation must be aware of this situation and reduce the anthropologenic causes of global warming. The session was carried out in three different schools in Thiruvallur educational district. Ms. Angeline defined global warming and climate change with an example to the students. To make the session interesting and interactive, the team came up with an activity to understand the global warming and climate change’s impact on birds. A total of 10 birds of India were selected with their beaks and feet. Dr. Siva discussed and explained the role of birds in ecosystem and effects on birds due to climate change. Each picture was given to a student and asked them to pair up the right ones. The students matched as quickly as possible and commented whether they have spotted the bird in their neighborhood and its frequency. They also justified the different modification of beaks and feet in each bird. The session was concluded by Mr. Selvam asking the students to suggest some measures to reduce global warming and its impact on birds. A few solutions discussed were to reduce the green house effects by switching off lights, planting more trees, using bicycle and public transport etc.

Biodiversity Audit

The biodiversity audit was conducted in different schools to analyze the varied plants and animals present in the campus. The main objectives were to enable the students appreciate life around them, to know their importance in the ecosystem, food chain, food web, and conservation. The students eagerly went around the campus with a note and pen. The team also prepared a datasheet to make a note of plants and animals observed. The common plants and trees found in the campus were Neem, Bakul, Banyan, Peepal, Jamun, etc. The students keenly noticed many insects, birds and mammals like butterflies, dragonflies, spiders, praying mantis, flies, wasps, caterpillars, pigeons, crows, owl, dogs, cats, etc. They also found many traces, feathers, nests, and chewed food of animals. The location of the animal, its behavior, number of species observed were all noted by the students. The common name of many species was unknown, the students made sure to learn their names from the educators. At the end of this activity, the staff and students were surprised to know that many species live around them and a few they see it for the first time. The students promised they will protect the existing biodiversity and attract more soon through establishing gardens and planting more trees.

SDG awareness Villupaatu

Only Art has the power to influence a person’s life and teach them new things easily and effortlessly. we have so many kinds of artforms in that, Villupaatu is an ancient form of musical story-telling in Southern India where narration is interspersed with music. Villupaatu is basically a question-and-answer session, when songs and music added along, it engages the audience to listen to the concept. Hence Villupaatu acts a great tool to convey the ideas, thoughts, and beliefs in an effective way. We firmly believe in that; hence we took the topic SDG – Sustainable Development Goals to three schools: Mogappair Boys High School, Chennai High School, Kannamapet, and Government Girls school, Chinna Porur in the form of Villupaatu to the students. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were adopted in the year 2015 by the UN General Assembly are a collection of 17 goals. They are

  1. No poverty
  2. Zero hunger
  3. Good health and well being
  4. Quality education
  5. Gender equality
  6. Clean water and sanitation
  7. Affordable and clean energy
  8. Decent work and economic growth
  9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  10. Reduced inequalities
  11. Sustainable cities and communities
  12. Responsible consumption and production
  13. Climate action
  14. Life below water
  15. Life on land
  16. Peace, justice and strong institutions
  17. Partnerships for the goals

These 17 goals are meant to end the severe poverty, reduce inequality, to provide quality education for all, etc. The future depends on the Sustainable approach that we follow now. We want the students to be aware of that hence we taught the SDG goals via Villupaatu. We received a good response from the students as it was through an artform with songs. It was a great surprise to us that a subject which required at least three days of study was easily mastered in just 45 minutes. Not only they learned, but they have also tapped into our imaginations and dazzled with new songs and poems. They gave us many ideas to compose it differently. Their interest made us happy and gave us the responsibility to teach them many things.

Observance of Mangrove Forest Day

In the honour of World Mangrove Day, a puppet show by eight students from the Chennai Middle School, Maduma nagar was held on July 29, 2022. Mangroves are salt- tolerant forest ecosystems that are mostly found in the tropical and subtropical intertidal regions. They are the most productive ecosystems where the biodiversity is varied and exclusive. A Few fauna that live here are crabs, snails, kingfishers, cormorants,spoonbills, etc. This ecosystem acts as a breeding and feeding ground for many species. The mangroves stabilize the shorelines and protect from natural disasters.

In Tamilnadu, the mangroves are found in Pichavaram, a few patches are found in Adyar Eco Park, and Ennore. For the celebration of Mangrove forest day, we worked with the students for five days. Before starting the rehearsal, we explained the students, what mangrove forests are, what they are used for and how they benefit us. During the rehearsal the students were so engaged and enthusiastic that they memorised all the conversations in half a day. After each day’s rehearsal, we meet with the students to discuss with them about the script whether they would like to change anything. They had given us so many interesting ideas on how to develop the script. As educators, we believe that the only key to unlocking a student’s imagination and creativity is through engaging them in the discussion. And our team has always done so without compromise. Our art-based classes were very helpful for slow learners to grasp our concepts as quickly as possible. All the materials used by the children for the puppet show were white cloth, monkey toys and handmade chart cutting. More than 100 children watched this puppet show. The headmaster of that school was very happy and give positive feedback for our program and asked us to come to his school again to conduct such programs because he also felt that the children were very reactive and interested in it.