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St. James' - Attempt to set a Guinness World Record

"It was absolutely magical": pupils launch hundreds of bottle boats to raise awareness about plastic pollution

Children from St. James’ CE Primary Academy in Bournemouth joined together recently to attempt to set a Guinness World Record completing ‘the Plastic Bottle Boat Challenge’ (PBBC).  The idea was to engage the children in learning about plastic, pollution, recycling, conservation, the environment and the circular economy, all linked to the outcome of a World Record attempt.

Given the large number of curriculum opportunities for exploring floating, sinking, materials, the environment, local issues, philosophy, design, construction and much more, the PBBC was the perfect opportunity to deliver learning that was relevant to the children and supported the school’s ambitions of helping each child to believe that they have the power to make a difference in the world.

On the 6th October after a week that Principal Jeremy Payne described as ‘magical’, three hundred and forty children boarded a flotilla of buses to travel to Poole Park where they played games, sang sea shanties and ultimately launched all their boats in a carefully choreographed process to comply with the Guinness requirements.  With the added pressure of BBC cameras, local radio and press on hand to record every moment, as well as a professional film crew with drones to capture the activity, Poole Park became the sight of a colourful and excited armada – the outcome is yet to be ratified by the Guinness auditors, however St. James’ are confident that 330 boats met the specifications and are keenly awaiting the official ratification from Guinness.  After the record attempt, all of the plastic boats were recycled into the back of a Poole Council lorry, underpinning the messages the children had learned about in the week.

Having completed the single venue record, the school have their sights set high and are launching a global Plastic Bottle Boat Challenge that intends to give children and schools across the world the opportunity to take part in the challenge and explore issues that are meaningful to their children and focussed on local as well as international learning.  The date set for the multi venue challenge is the 27th June 2018 and a website is soon to be launched to officially announce this venture to the world.

Many parents shared positive feedback or emailed in their comments during and after the event, with one response summing up the impact of the week :  ‘Our children have had the most amazing time this week and have been so engaged in their learning, one has even come home wanting to write every evening!  Not only have they learnt about making boats, but also about the wider world and how we need to look after this. Such a joy to listen to them telling us each evening.  Thank you so much, St. James! ’

Following the week’s learning, 93% of St. James’ children responded that they would now act differently in their daily lives to prevent some of the damage that plastics are doing to the world and 93% of children declared that they were more passionate about protecting the planet and making a difference for future generations than they had been before the week started. 

When the global record attempt and website is launched, St. James’ have promised that they will share that information so that everyone can get involved! 

More comments from parents…

  • ‘It has certainly done the job, the message has stuck, my son complained personally to a company offering plastic knives and forks instead of reusable metal ones, to diners this weekend !#great work!!’ Parental comment on Facebook
  • ‘I just wanted to thank you from a parent’s point of view. Lucas finds school tricky most days, struggles in Maths and English but this week he has been inspired, excited and has loved every second of this brilliant week of learning.’ Parent email
  • ‘A really important subject, and great that you've been spreading the message throughout the whole school. My little boy in reception was telling me all about plastic in the sea and about the poor animals that get hurt. It's had a huge impact on him!’ Parental comment on Facebook