Monday, April 6, 2015

Message in the Materials

Art project helps middle school students explore environmental impacts

By Joye Redfield-Wilder, communications manager

In anticipation of Earth Day, students at Wapato Middle School in the Yakima Valley embarked on a journey to consider their impact on the environment and how they might creatively “recycle, reuse and reduce.” And have fun doing so.
They were asked to think about themselves, what they liked and how their actions might affect the natural environment. They found a Message in the Materials, creating works of art and employing engineering principles by using materials that might otherwise be thrown away.
Magazines, cardboard and TP rolls inspiration for art projects
Their creations were fashioned with things easily found at home or school. Collages were designed using pictures cut from old magazines. Mobiles and flat art were made from broken pieces of compact discs, plastic pop bottles and caps. STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) students designed bridges using popsicle sticks and other art pieces were constructed from cardboard toilet paper rolls and disposable food trays.

The projects were on display at the school's Cultural Unity Fair on March 26, 2015, in Wapato, and are featured in an Ecology Flickr photo album. (
Ecology staff partnered with WMS teachers Cathy Johnson, Molly Mondor, Elizabeth Fries, and Todd Berthon to bring the environmental education and art project to the school.
Flower made of rolled paper
Employees at Ecology’s Central Regional office gathered up magazines and TP rolls for the project and served as guest speakers for the sixth- through eighth-grade students.

Ecology employees Rod Hankinson, Danielle Jansik and Valerie Bound shared different aspects of their work and how students’ study of science and love of nature can become a career protecting the environment. They explored topics from picking up litter to working to eliminate waste in the first place. They discussed the consequences of pollution and the expense of cleanup. And in a hands-on demonstration, students learned how surface and ground waters interact and the importance of protecting our water resources.

This is the second year Ecology’ central office has sponsored the Message in the Materials art environmental education project at area schools.

Beginning April 20, art students from Yakima’s Davis and Eisenhower high schools will display jewelry, flat art and sculptures made with “upcycled” materials at Ecology’s Central Regional Office, 15 W. Yakima Ave, Suite 200, Yakima.

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