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Web Quest

Taking The Upcycling Challenge

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For this WebQuest it will be necessary for you to work as a team with your peers. The challenge is this: Your local community is trying to encourage children and adults to engage in the traditional art of reading. They have decided that if they had a library in the community it would encourage people to take out books at a very small charge, read them and return them. You know that creating a new library will be costly and a huge undertaking, also that the production of new materials needed will be harmful to the planet. In response to this you decide as a team that it is possible to create a library from upcycling materials that you can gather within your community. Not only does this save the community money, but it will promote an eco-friendly approach and will help to bring the community together.

The first challenge will be location, once you and your team have identified a suitable location you will need to negotiate with the owner of the property. While the upcycled library will be a community project, you will need to draw on your good will in the community to secure a space for no charge. Once you have a location for the library the next step is research. You will need to split up into teams and research how to upcycle and gain some inspiration from the internet. This will help you gain the skills and knowledge necessary for creating something from the materials you can gather within your community.

The end goal will be for you and all of the other teams to create a library from upcycled materials that you have discovered and located in your local community. This will be achieved by delegating tasks to the teams, the first team will focus on gathering books, comics, magazines etc. By calling to all households in the area and asking for donations of unwanted books, you will be surprised by how generous people can be. The second team will focus on creating bookmarks and tickets using a selection of reusable and recycled paper and cardboard. The third team will gather old furniture from charity shops and use the timber to upcycle and create new bookshelves, seating areas and counters. If you are ready, you can get started with your Upcycling Challenge!

Step 1: What Is Upcycling? Why Is It Important, How Do I Get Started?

The first step in organising the library is to begin by doing some research on upcycling. The most important thing to understand is why it is necessary to upcycle and how you and your team can get started! You can find all the information you need for your research from the Web, also here are some examples to help guide you. It is always an added benefit to continue your own research:

Step 2: Make a Plan!

It is important that all team members are actively involved in the planning phase of the project to produce the upcycled library. It is essential that each person knows what their role is in the team and what their input to play an active and rewarding addition to the team. The teams can be as big or small as you like it will depend on how many people you can engage. Make sure that the work is split fairly between each of the team members and the work is suitable for each persons’ ability. As part of the plan, take some time to brainstorm, this exercise always helps to build team spirit, that is when the ideas flow. Some questions that you can ask to get started could be. What do you want the upcycled library to look like? Where will you gather the materials from? What challenges do you envisage and what mechanism will you put in place to deal with them? How long do you think it will take you to do each of the tasks? As the teams come together an important question will be when you want to have the library up and running and be accessible to all the people in the community. It is always a good idea to allow enough time for little things to go wrong that might delay the opening day. Some things you might find helpful for this step is researching how to manage a team and how to plan or brainstorm.

A few links have been set below to help you begin your research, but make sure to do some of your own research to help the team:

Step 3: Spread the Word!

While you are going to be creating an upcycled library for your community, it is important to spread the word that the library will be a new community facility and accessible to everyone who would like to use it. From the previous step you should have picked a date in which the library should be accessible. You and the team should make sure that people know when the upcycled library will be opening and is available so that they can visit and support this amazing new outlet for creativity. So, for this step you should come together to decide how you should advertise the opening of the new library. There are numerous ways to do this, you could design a big colourful informative poster, you could do a leaflet drop or have social media event, or even use Tik-Tok or Instagram to spread the word online. If you use something like Instagram or Tik-Tok, why not make it about sharing your adventure, adding photos or videos as you progress through the tasks. The choice however is down to you, to make your decision easier, you could research different methods of advertising your event and see which suits the team best.

For this task, we recommend that you split up in your team and together you can make a plan for how you will estimate the costs for all the work you are proposing, and all of the supplies you will need for the renovation project. By sourcing reuse- able or recycle- able materials you will cut the cost drastically while also saving the environment. Try to consider all of the resources that may be needed to fix-up your chosen area.

Some links have been provided again to help you on your way:

Step 4: Gather the Materials!

In the same way that you cannot make a cake without the ingredients, you cannot make your upcycled library without the materials. Therefore, you will need to research where to find the materials you need. The local recycling centre is a good place to start or your local charity shop/thrift store, or even asking friends and family if they have any items or materials that they do not want anymore, and you could recycle. Another good resource for finding things is using an online listing website to search for local ads.

Another interesting part of this research will be to learn where to find the books and other interesting articles you will need to fill your shelves with and encourage bright young and old minds to come in and read and borrow. For this step you will need to use your researching skills! Do not be afraid to also make your own books/comics/magazines maybe from recycled paper or cardboard. You could even use your recently acquired skills on upcycling and innovation to encourage other to do the same.

By creating a prototype of how the area could love with a little TLC, and by explaining the benefits that young people will reap from these improvements, you and your team can make a strong argument for why this area deserves to be renovated!

Step 5: Upcycle!

Now that you have gathered all the materials you need for the library and have all your research done, you should be ready to get started on upcycling all the necessary components for the new upcycled library. A large part of this step involves researching and understanding different ways to make the many different parts of the project needed to achieve the overall objective. This is where you and your teams can be creative. However, you will need to research the skills and techniques in depth to ensure that you use the upcycled materials to their full advantage.

You will also need to research or use your own artistic talent to make bookmarks or other little trinkets that will work well in the library. Locating the materials for this part will come with a bit of creativity. Do not be afraid to get creative and think outside the box, practically anything can be used to make an interesting bookmark.

Finally, the biggest part of this task is researching how to make a bookcase for the library. This is where you can let your imagination run wild, with a little bit of guidance and a little bit of ingenuity, you can have a fabulous new shinny library in your community that everyone will love.

Links have been provided for ideas on how to make bookshelves from scrap pallets, cardboard or even suitcases! So, enjoy being creative:

Step 6: The Grand Opening!

At this stage you should have most of the components you need for your upcycled libraryassembled, with all the books that you have gathered or made, presented in alphabetical order and looking well in your upcycled bookcases/shelves. As you have had a major ongoing advertising campaign to promote the opening of the library, people will be excited to come and visit it. There could be a suggestion from your team that a contribution is required from the public on entry, so that you can donate any money raised to a local charity or to a recycling project to help others. You could also sell your handmade books, comics and bookmarks and use the contributions to help charities or your local community.

First you need to plan and host your event, and for this the following links will be useful:

As part of the assessment of this WebQuest, young people are asked to complete a lot of challenging tasks. Not only are they learning about upcycling and its benefits for the environment, but they are also being challenged to act and do something to develop an upcycling project in their community. To complete this challenge, young people will have to go out and engage with the community, make calls to collect and gather donations and freebies, get help to make the bookshelves, and the books! They will also be asked to find a location for the community library, and to plan an opening event to launch the library in the community. These are very complex tasks, but they will develop some very important skills in young people, and it will get them out into the community and feeling empowered to take action against climate change, by investing in a local upcycling project. Throughout this challenge young people will learn and develop a lot of skills that will stay with them through life – team work, collaboration, negotiation – and they will also have the opportunity to try their hand at some arts and crafts! By working as a team to complete these challenges, young people should have a real sense of accomplishment at the end of this WebQuest, having achieved something meaningful for their community.

As a self- assessment exercise for this WebQuest,
young people will then be asked complete a short self-reflection exercise and write 350-400 words on how they rated their performance in the task, what elements they enjoyed or did not enjoy, etc. If the young people in the group are reluctant to write this self-assessment, the youth worker can accept the answers to the self-assessment in the form of a short vlog entry. The following questions will guide this self-assessment:

  • This is a team-work task. Did you enjoy working as part of a team? How did you think you performed as part of a team? What role did you take on within the team? Would you have preferred to complete this activity on your own, rather than as part of a team? Explain your answer.
  • What elements of this activity did I enjoy best?
  • What aspect did I find most challenging and why?
  • What skills did I acquire through this activity? Is there something I was good at that I did not think I would be good at?
  • Did I enjoy working with my hands to build the bookshelf or create the books and bookmarks?
  • Did I get inspired to upcycle in other parts of my life? If yes, what could the next upcycling project be?

Congratulations! With your team you have successfully created an upcycled library for your community by using your knowledge and skills in upcycling. We have come a long way from the beginning where we faced the daunting prospects of Upcycling. However, as a team you have proved that working together, using everyone’s creative talents and organisational skills can make a big difference. By working together, it is possible for us all to do something good to help save our planet. This can even be a fun activity for us, by giving ourselves time to be creative and inventive. Upcycling as you now know, can make sure we do not add to the throwaway culture and give life to some of our forgotten or old possessions. We can even use the old to make something new for our communities.

The task does not have to end here though! If you want to continue with this project, there is still a lot more that can be done! Why not expand further and add books to the library or keep the Instagram or TikTok page alive with updates. You could even write a guide for others on how you completed this project so they can help their community too. Perhaps make a group in your community to share these ideas and expand it further!

As you go out into the world and take on your next upcycling challenge, remember that every time you reuse rather than consume, you are doing your part to save the planet! It is important to always remember:

“The Earth is what we all have in common.” - Wendell Berry

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On completion of this WebQuest, team members will have achieved the following learning outcomes:

  • Basic knowledge of what upcycling is
  • Basic knowledge of how to implement upcycling and recycling in their everyday life
  • Factual knowledge of recycling based on the DIY tutorials presented and found from research
  • Factual knowledge of how to spread information about an event
  • Factual knowledge of how and where to find materials for upcycling
  • Describe what upcycling is
  • Apply new creative skills to create and design new items from old
  • Follow a design process to create something new
  • Identify and implement creative upcycling ideas
  • Confidently brainstorm ideas and plan as a team
  • Work as a team for a common goal
  • Appreciation for their own imagination and creativity.
  • Awareness of the need to build self- confidence
  • Openness to nurturing creativity and ecoresponsibility
  • Appreciate their own community and the difference they can make in it
  • Willingness to do their part in climate change

Questions that a youth worker or teacher might use in a whole class discussion to debrief this WebQuest:
  • Did you find learning through a WebQuest engaging? What made it more/less fun?
  • Did you enjoy learning as a team? Was it better than working on something alone?
  • Did you feel that getting first-hand experience about upcycling was more beneficial and more educational than just being told about it? How do you feel about working on a project?
  • How did you like your role in the team? Was there a different part of the team you feel like you would have liked to try?
  • Do you think it is important to learn about environmentally friendly activities like upcycling? Will you teach others what you have learnt from the tasks and your research?
  • What could your next upcycling project be?
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