Sustainable Mobility and First Graders


Tatjana Diaci


Sustainable mobility is a topic that is very important for the quality of life. It is necessary to familiarise children with it from an early age. When our school took part in the project “Sustainable Mobility”, I was happy to participate because I think it is an important topic. It is important to teach children from an early age to walk and cycle as much as possible, because this helps themselves and the environment. With the task set, I wanted to show pupils as vividly as possible how non-sustainable mobility methods pollute the environment, or on the other hand, how sustainable methods help to reduce the pollution. The project we carried out was successful, but it did not have a long-term effect. I was satisfied with the exercise as it clearly showed the impact of mobility modes on the environment.

Keywords: sustainable mobility, pollution, exhaust gases.


At school we have been involved in the project Sustainable Mobility. The aim of sustainable mobility is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the environment, contributing to cleaner air, a better quality of life and a healthier environment. Sustainable mobility includes walking, cycling, use of public transport and alternative forms of mobility. The focus is on limiting private motorised transport and energy consumption and promoting sustainable modes of transport.

From an environmental point of view, walking is the least polluting form of transport and is therefore considered the most environmentally friendly form of mobility. Walking reduces energy dependency, helps to save non-renewable resources and, as the smallest consumer of space, maintains the openness of urban space (Jezeršek, 2011).

Motivating first graders for sustainable mobility

First I introduced pupils to the concept of sustainable mobility (Ogrin et al, 2019). To motivate children for sustainable arrival to school, everyone who came to school this way was given a special card that indicated the mode of transportation. The pupils who came by car did not get the card. These were then collected for a whole week. At the weekend, children would play with them.

Since I teach 1st grade in elementary school, I wanted to explain the concept of sustainable mobility to the pupils in the most understandable way possible, so we did an activity called “Less (Exhaust) is Better than More.” The goal of the activity was to help the pupils understand that some modes of transportation are very harmful to the environment, some are less so, and some are not at all. I presented the poster to the children which was divided into three parts (school, parking, exhaust gasses) (Figure 1).


Figure 1. A scheme of a poster on which students placed pictures of a student, means of coming to school and exhaust fumes

Each child was given pictures – a pupil (boy or girl), a bicycle, a pedestrian, a car, and a cloud of exhaust gasses. I instructed them that it was Monday, for example, and that everyone should go to school on foot. The children who were sitting in their seats (that was their home) walked towards a poster that was on the floor of the classroom with a picture of a pupil and a pedestrian. We stressed that they needed to be careful on the road (the class represented the road). We reiterated how to behave in traffic (bright clothing, yellow scarf, reflectors at night, being accompanied by an adult). When they got to the school – the poster – they put the pupil on the part where the school heading was and the pedestrian on the part with the heading parking. We noticed that there were no exhaust gasses. After the talk, everyone took their pictures and went “home”. The next “day” everyone came to school by bike. We stressed that they must wear a mandatory helmet on their bike, they must be accompanied by an adult, and they must be extremely careful on the road. Again, they put the pupil to the school grounds and the bike was “parked” in the parking lot. Again, there were no exhaust gasses this time either. The next day, everyone was driven to school in the family car. We stressed that they must always wear seat belts, that they must use a booster seat and they must sit in the back seat. This time they also brought a cloud of exhFigure 2aust gasses with them, and placed it in a suitable place (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Activity Less (exhaust) is better than more – coming by car

They were astonished when the entire space set aside for exhaust gasses was filled. I asked them how they could reduce exhaust gasses and still get to school by car. They suggested that more children could come by one car. So we agreed that two pupils would come by one car first, and then three pupils per car. The difference was obvious. At the end, I asked them what other vehicle they could use Figure 3to further reduce the exhaust gasses. Someone suggested the bus. So we ended up demonstrating all the pupils arriving by bus. We also discussed what the rules are when riding a bus – sit still, wear a seatbelt, and do not disturb the driver. We found that the bus was able to bring in a lot of children, but there were significantly less exhaust gasses – actually just one cloud (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Activity Less (exhausts) is better than more – arriving by bus


The purpose of the activity was achieved as the pupils saw and understood very clearly the difference between a sustainable and an unsustainable way of going to school, using concrete examples.

The project lasted for one week. During the mobility week, we recorded how pupils arrive to the school. Pupils followed the daily recording of arrivals with interest and collected cards.

The project we carried out seemed to me to be successful. I just think that the effects were short term rather than long term. Throughout the school year, pupils should be encouraged to come to school in a sustainable way. Perhaps it would be more successful or with long-lasting effects if we would record school arrivals throughout the school year, but then only on random days, a few times a month. This would take some time, but I think the final effect would be greater. Pupils would be even more motivated if those who would have most often come to school in a sustainable way received recognition or a prize.

The sustainable mobility project seems to me to be a good example of raising awareness. Children need to be made aware of sustainable development from an early age. It would make sense to have as much of this kind of content as possible, because only with continuous work can we achieve the desired results.


  1. Jezeršek, D. (2011). Hoja: mobilnost, ki zagotavlja trajnost. Revija za geografijo – Journal for Geography, 2(6), 123-132.
  2. Ogrin, M., Resnik Planinc T., Ilc Klundr, M., Plevnik, A. (2019). Trajnostna mobilnost. Priročnik za učitelje v osnovnih šolah. 2. spletna izdaja, Ministrstvo za infrastrukturo, Ljubljana.

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