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Norway: Chewing Gum

Year 5 students at Birralee International School in Trondheim have developed a project with the aim of reducing the amount of discarded chewing gum on our streets, both here in Trondheim and (hopefully) throughout the rest of the world.

The project began by passing the power to the students; we challenged them to find a waste related problem in the city and then to develop a project based on this. The class decided that we would need to go out into the community to explore these problems for ourselves.

As a class, we visited a number of local areas to look for problems. We found issues surrounding litter, food waste, recycling, cigarette butts and chewing gum. It was some mathematics that led us to focus on chewing gum, as we found out that there were 16 pieces of chewing gum per square metre in popular areas of Trondheim centre.

Kids on the street looking at the ground. One is holding a running wheel
3 kids presenting their paper to the camera and pointing towads the ground

Once we had decided on our mission, we investigated the impact of chewing gum on the streets and looked closely at the problems this can cause. The children created multimedia presentations to highlight these issues and even wrote Haiku poems to warn people of the dangers.

Having identified the problems, the next step was finding solutions. The children used the internet to research the impact of chewing gum in other countries and what the best solutions were. We found that in England, there was an initiative for ‘gum only’ bins that had reduced gum on the streets, saved the local councils money and the chewing gum collected had even been recycled to make other items, including the gum bins. We decided to plan and build our own gum-only bins.

Kids working on a reclycling gum project
3 Kids presenting their project to the camera. One is raising their hand, as in celebration.
3 self-made little chewing gum boxes out made out of paper.

Once we had created our bins, we made television adverts to promote these to the local Kommune and also to share with the community to raise awareness of the problem.

We also wanted to send our message to chewing gum companies and chewing gum consumers so developed alternative chewing gum packaging that carried warnings and information.

We now had a range of ideas and products but we needed to find a way to share our message and find people that could make our ideas a reality. We contacted Trondheim Kommune and arranged a digital meeting. The children shared their findings and pitched their idea for gum-only bins in Trondheim.

The Kommune were impressed and agreed to consider our proposals.

The next step was to promote our ideas to the wider community. We held an open day for children at the school and parents where we shared our message far and wide through presentations, games and models.

We did not stop here. We wanted our message to spread further than Trondheim, so we contacted Supernyyt, a national news broadcaster for children. They decided to take on our story and our project was shown live on national television. You can watch it here: NRK Super – Supernytt

Kids sitting and standing in a class room in front of a big TV screen that seems to host a ZOOM call.
A Moderator on a video wearing a black shirt. There is kids in a little window in the right corner on the screen holding a sheet of paper into the camera.

The impact of our project is still ongoing. We believe that we have altered the mindsets of thousands of people and our gum bin proposals may yet one day become a reality. The children were thrilled with the impact that their project had and were delighted to be involved in something so powerful and meaningful.

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