I spent the day at Sherman Elementary School in Tacoma yesterday as part of a day of classes put together as a collaboration between the Ikkatsu Project and the Foss Waterway Seaport. It’s a pilot program to introduce the idea of marine debris to elementary school students and link it with thoughts about single-use plastics in their own lives. The students will work together to design and build several sculptures out of plastic trash that are intended to further inform the public about the issue as they are on exhibit at the Seaport’s museum through the 2015 season. It’s a great opportunity for all involved, as far as I can tell; everyone is still smiling. But yesterday was a long day!
From 9:15 – 3:30, no breaks. A continuous 6 hours of talking with Kindergartners and 5th Graders, as well as few other grades in between, little lessons about plastic, facts about what words like “biodegradable” and “recyclable” and “sustainable” really mean. The idea is that, with a foundation in some of the realities about plastic in the environment, the students should be able to generate some ideas for a sculpture, something that will address the plastic problem in a creative and engaging way. Each class will work with an artist and a structural engineer as they develop their design and numerous Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) methods are built into the project. There are six classes participating, along with three artists… the kids are in the research and messaging phase now, with work on the actual sculptures to begin in April and museum installation in May. And yes, there will be an opening gala, a black tie affair.
It’s pretty cool. The kids are great and the teachers are pretty incredible too. To be able to bring a first-run program like this to a Tacoma public school is, I am hoping, just the beginning of what will be many more to come. The kids get it, even the young ones. (Especially the young ones.) It was a long day and I am still tired 24 hours later, but it was well worth it.