Reinforcing Recycling

Persell Students Participate In Tech-Science Project

Technology teacher Tim Whitacre and Science teacher Lina Scoma combined efforts to allow students to use their own imagination and create artistic and/or functional projects made from recyclable materials. Persell Middle School students have spent two weeks in the combined classroom working on their projects and were putting the finishing touches on them Thursday. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

Plastic bottles and other waste thrown to the side as trash were used as the basis for a seventh-grade science project focused on recyclable materials.

Inside the technology room at Persell Middle School, students were putting final touches on their recycled-art projects they began creating two weeks ago. Some of them made functional objects for later use and others made more artistic-driven projects emphasizing aesthetics. But to the surprise of science teacher Lina Scoma and technology teacher Tim Whitacre, many of the students decided to create items that were functional and from their own imagination.

“Most of them did lean toward the functional aspect which really surprised me,” Scoma said.

Scoma envisioned more students deciding to use their creative side to make pieces of art, rather than usable tools. Scoma and Whitacre said the overall feedback from the students was one of excitement and innovation. The middle-school students were given free rein as to what their projects could look like.

Before collecting recyclable waste and designing their projects, the students were taught the importance of recycling, the incentives for recycling and the negative impact of pollution.

They were also shown images of the one of the largest side effects of pollution, specifically plastic pollution, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

There are five ocean-based garbage patches around the world, but none larger than the one floating in the Pacific Ocean. Comprised of plastic and other additional garbage, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is estimated to have a surface area of 1.6 million square kilometers, or about 617,000 square miles, according to the Ocean Clean Up website. The estimated surface area is twice the size of Texas.

While there are efforts being made globally to reduce the size of the garbage patches, others are simply asked to recycle to reduce the human contribution to the oceanic collection of waste — precisely what the Persell students were displaying Tuesday.

Musical instruments, stools, 3-D art and a recycling drop-off box decorated with plastic-water bottles were various directions students took their projects. The collaboration is part of the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Music emphasis at Jamestown Public Schools.

“I feel like its going to be apart of their future,” Scoma said of the project’s emphasis on recycling. “If you look at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch … fast forward 10 more years and it could be the size of the United States. This is their generation. If they don’t start doing something about it or start recognizing that this is an issue then 10 years from now it’s just going to be worse.”

Whitacre reiterated Scoma’s sentiment and noted that the world has become an environment surrounded by plastic materials. While admitting plastic use is hard to avoid, he also emphasized those items are easily reusable.

“(The materials) can keep getting reused as opposed to being thrown in the landfill,” Whitacre said.