Schools biodome to teach pupils about sustainable living

A Berkshire school has opened an eco-friendly classroom with a difference to promote environmental awareness among its pupils.

Children at Shinfield St Mary’s Junior School will now be able to grow their own oranges and other produce inside a solar-powered biodome which has been installed within the school grounds.
The biodome was purchased after a fundraising drive by the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA), which received contributions from the parish council and local businesses, including a £1,000 donation from housebuilder Bloor Homes, whose Shinfield Meadows development is located nearby.

Known in scientific circles as a closed ecological system, the biodome provides a completely self-sustaining method of growing food. Water from two fish ponds is piped inside the dome to water the plants, with waste produced by the fish providing much-needed nutrients. The plants act as a filter and remove the harmful chemicals, enabling clean water to be piped back into the ponds.
Because of the high temperatures inside the biodome, which acts like a large greenhouse, children will be able to grow a variety of crops, from oranges and herbs to broccoli and spinach, which will then be sold at regular farmers markets held by the school to raise money for charity.

Matthew Knight, year 6 teacher and the school’s ecology and science co-ordinator said: “Our new biodome will provide an exciting and interactive way for the children to learn about the importance of sustainable living and how to plant and harvest their own food, whilst at the same time helping to raise money for charity.

“It will also provide additional teaching space which will be ideal for art classes, and could be used by the pupils as a peaceful place for quiet contemplation. The children are so excited by the new biodome and we believe it will greatly enhance their learning experience.”

Lisa Collins, a member of the school’s PTA, said: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to Bloor Homes for their generous donation towards our fundraising effort for the new biodome. We have worked extremely hard to support the school with this exciting project and the response from parents and the local community has been fantastic.”

Luke Southgate, Regional Sales Director at Bloor Homes Southern, said: “We always like to support the communities in which we build, and so when the PTA at Shinfield St Mary’s got in touch to tell us about the school’s plans to purchase a biodome we were more than happy to help.”