6th graders teach principal Jeff Knoth how organic pollution attaches to plastic
Kicking off another year as NOAA Ocean Guardians
, students and teachers at Wood Middle School transformed their 1st floor hallway into an underwater wonderland. For the last six years, Wood Middle School has been studying the human impacts on the ocean through service-learning and stewardship projects on-campus and at the beach one block from school. Using Art and Science, over 100 students worked together to create a gallery calling attention to each individual's ability to make a difference.
6th graders in Jeannette Frechou's Service-Learning Waste Reduction Project organized display cases showing the impacts of litter on marine life using actual debris collected at the beach. At the gallery opening on November, 2, they hosted tables and displays highlighting their contributions to an international citizen-science project tracking the spread of persistent organic pollutants through the world's oceans.
Teacher Jeannette Frechou shows off her students' work
They also welcomed student visitors and encouraged their comments through post-it notes attached to art work.
Frechou praised her students ability to talk about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) topics with adults and peers alike, "Jared Thomas, a 6th grader, talked to students about the harmful effects of polystyrene breaking apart during wind, wave and current interactions and their tiny spheres are mistaken for eggs. These plastics contain estrogen-like molecules that move up our food chain. He told students to talk to retailers to use more earth-friendly packaging for fragile electronic materials."
DolphinOver 80 students from grades 6-8 in Lindsey Shepard's art classes created works of art focusing on individual marine animals and the ways human activities impact them. Shepard explained that she was interested in having students investigate where artists find inspiration and encouraged them to start close to home and look at ways that art and science can influence each other.
"One of the 1st steps in this project was for students to conduct research," said Shepard. "They had to identify and study the needs and challenges faced by different animals. Many of them went to the beach on weekends to make observations and collect debris that might harm animals- all of this helped to inspire their art."
Inspired by a technique called Zentangle ®, students used ink and watercolor to create bold, vibrant representations of marine animals. Each work of art was accompanied by an artist's statement explaining both the motivation for choosing a particular animal and concerns about human impacts on their health.
"I really wanted to help students bring their voice and passion to this project- they have a great amount of pride in their work," said Shepard.
Alameda Unified School District Board Member, Trish Herrera Spencer, echoed Shepard's sentiment:
"As a parent and AUSD Board Member, I truly enjoy the opportunity to see our students' work and am continually amazed by the incredible opportunities offered to our students in our public schools. This is a wonderful example of Wood Middle School's collaboration, through the stellar efforts of Ms. Frechou, with a national organization, the NOAA, to bring the teachings of science to life for our students. The students' detailed writings and colorful artwork reflected their efforts and enthusiasm in their studies. Student success, especially in areas such as science and math, is dependent upon the ability of teachers to spark students' interest and the support of organizations, such as the NOAA, helps achieve that mission."
The gallery opening capped a week-long campaign to raise awareness about waste reduction, conservation, and student leadership in environmental stewardship.