Soaps made by St Michael School students. (Picture by Green Bananas Media.)
THE Scienmentalist Medical Soaps, scrubs, and soaks sold by The St Michael School’s Environmental Science Club at BMEX this year were a hit.
With more focus these days on science and technology, the club offers way more than bunsen burners, petri dishes, collecting PET bottles and undertaking clean-ups. As science teacher Carol Cumberbatch, who is responsible for the club, explained in an interview with BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY, the students learn about recycling and repurposing every day household items.
“We needed an environmental club and we needed a science club and we thought [about] how we could put the two together. We decided that we could use science and technology to teach children how to save their environment,” she said.
“This year we launched a programme at school called New Start and it’s trying to get our children to think about their future and the way they’re living their life now, giving them a fresh take on everything. So we’re looking at exercise, sunshine, drinking a lot of water, those sorts of things.
“Then we extended it to natural products. What you put on your skin actually goes into your system and it can affect you so why not start from now using products that are better for your skin. So we created a line of products using culinary ingredients, things you would have at home – carrots, turmeric and those kinds of things – putting it all together making soaps, soaks and scrubs,” she added.
The skin care items which included Exfoliation Plus, Bug Defence, and a pedicure Bar – were done specifically for BMEX and the students enjoyed learning and making them. The initial thought was to do something they would benefit from. However, as Cumberbatch said “it has taken off”.
Several patrons bought items over the weekend and they chatted with teacher Veronica Lovell-Grandison, who was at the booth, asking her about the ingredients and health properties.
“A lot of people are more into using products that are more beneficial than just what they find on the market,” Cumberbatch added.
“We started with the soaps first. The making of it is not actually a long process. We used a slow cooker and the students make the soap the same time but . . . drying is the long process because you have to set it out and actually leave it to dry . . . . We’re not adding any chemicals. The normal soaps you buy from the supermarket or wherever have chemicals added to make them hard so they last longer but because we’re not adding the chemicals, you have to set them out and let them air dry.
“You can use them as they are but then when you can actually squeeze them they’re too soft, so it’s better if you cut them and leave them to dry; then they become a bit tougher but not as tough as what you get in the supermarket,” she said.
The moulds for the round soaps? Recycled Pringles containers.
The eight teachers and students in the club benefitted from Lovell-Grandison’s knowledge of detoxification, natural soaps and scrubs.
“When they’re doing it they’re told ‘you’re doing this because or doing it for that’ and ‘carrots are good for you’. It wasn’t that they come and make something, it’s explained to them what they’re doing and why so they can in turn hopefully, pass on the knowledge. Hopefully it won’t just stay with them but they’ll take it home to the parents, the siblings, friends.”
Despite the popularity of the skin care essentials and having copped the second prize in the secondary schools’ category, the teacher was uncertain if they would continue to manufacture them given the students’ interest and the fact that it was a project for BMEX.
“Because we have 58 students, it is hard to get everybody involved in everything at the same time. Usually every year, we concentrate on something. This year, our theme was let’s repurpose and we concentrated on repurposing almost everything. We took magazine pages and made gift bags. We look for ways to show students don’t throw away, whatever you have can be used for another purpose.
“Some years, we concentrate on developing scientific skills, making science cool, making it interesting. So this year because we did more environmental stuff, next school year is more science,” Cumberbatch said. (GBM)