By Willma Bureau
The County of Simcoe, Ontario has revved up waste management promotion and education with a Mobile Education Unit (MEU). Both children and adults enjoy this "rolling classroom" packed with interactive games that promote waste reduction as well as the county's collection and diversion programs.
The MEU is a 30-foot trailer wrapped with wall-to-wall graphics on both its interior and the exterior, and is hauled by a bio-diesel fuelled pick-up truck. The MEU is being utilized extensively at schools as well as at various community events within Simcoe County.
The activities are designed to appeal to today's technologically-inclined youth and feature six 24-inch touch screens as well as eight digital photo screens.
The interior of the MEU is designed to resemble a streetscape with four different interactive stations incorporated into the design. These stations follow the lifecycle of products from point of purchase, to use in the home, to collection at curbside and finally to processing.
Upon entering the MEU, the first activity is the Green Grocery where players travel down the aisles of a virtual grocery store to select the most environmentally friendly option for each item on their shopping list. Items are dragged and dropped into the player's virtual grocery cart while messaging encourages better choices. The activity teaches the importance of the three Rs at point of purchase.
The next activity is called the Smart Home where visitors are taken on a virtual tour of the home by a member of the "Smart" family.
Players are required to select various items in each area of the home and divert them properly in order to complete the game. The activity illustrates the types of wastes that can be diverted in various areas of the home in order to increase capture and diversion rates.
Next, visitors can tour Lifecycle Lane where eight digital photo screens sequence through the lifecycles of common recyclable materials and provide information on the importance of diverting organics and education about disposal.
The Waste Plant is the final activity station where various waste items travel across a virtual conveyor belt to be sorted by participants by dragging and dropping them into the county's four-stream system: containers, fibres, organics and garbage.
The player attempts to achieve a high score by sorting the items properly while the speed of the game increases to enhance the challenge.
The activity encourages proper waste sorting to increase capture rates and reduce contamination in the county's recycling and organics programs.
The Mobile Education Unit is a one-of-a-kind public education tool that engages children with its innovative, entertainment based learning. It acts as a travelling classroom that promotes the 3Rs.
The Continuous Improvement Fund (CIF) provided the county with partial funding in support of this unique educational tool.
View the Mobile Education Unit video
For further information about the MEU, visit the County of Simcoe website at www.simcoe.ca or contact the Solid Waste Management Department at 705-735-6901.
Willma Bureau is Contracts & Collections Supervisor at the County of Simcoe.
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