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Published: Friday, 4/22/2005

Ecology lesson is a sweet treat

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Troy Cornett, 8, left, Sabrina Khuder, 6, Ross Yarger, 9, and Sam Breece, 7, work on their nature mural. Troy Cornett, 8, left, Sabrina Khuder, 6, Ross Yarger, 9, and Sam Breece, 7, work on their nature mural.
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Trash and topsoil never tasted so good.

Layered edible landfills - complete with fruity cereal trash, chocolate pudding soil, and a licorice pipe releasing methane gas - were just one of the environmentally conscious creations made by students at Fort Miami Elementary School in Maumee.

During the school's Eco-Art Fair yesterday, Bowling Green State University students led the children through 10 projects with lessons about the environment. The activities included building bird houses, constructing ant farms, and painting clay pots to serve as toad sanctuaries.

"All the activities fit into the curriculum at one of the grade levels," said Gail Salmon, a fifth-grade teacher. "It makes students see that science can be a lot of fun."

The projects and lessons were developed by BGSU students taking classes in environmental studies and science education with Jodi Haney, a BGSU professor and Maumee resident.

"We try to get BGSU students involved in learning through community service," Ms. Haney said. "The big idea was to try to connect art and nature for the Fort Miami students."

Drew Weber, 7, tries some of the edible landfill while listening to an ecology lesson from BGSU students. Drew Weber, 7, tries some of the edible landfill while listening to an ecology lesson from BGSU students.
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Lindsay Dukes, a senior at BGSU, led the edible landfill project. She displayed a poster that showed the multiple layers of a landfill, from the clay on the bottom to the grassy covering on top. Each layer was represented by a food that students smashed or coiled or slathered into a plastic cup to make a landfill model.

Fourth grader Steven Hand was hooked on the project when he pounded his first for the first time into his bag of cookies, which had to be smashed to resemble clay.

"This is cool. It's like we're baking something," he said.

While making their edible landfills, the students learned about how a real landfill functions and why different parts are important in preventing contamination of the air and surrounding groundwater.

"The students are actually remembering the layers, which really surprises me," said Ms. Dukes. "My hope is that they now understand where their trash goes, and it encourages them to reuse and recycle."

The eco-art fits into Fort Miami's annual art theme. This year, the theme was "Building a Community," in honor of the upcoming construction of an elementary school. Students previously did art projects while learning about the history of Maumee and the design and construction process. Yesterday focused on the natural aspect of the community.

This is the first year Fort Miami has teamed up with BGSU students for an art event, and Principal Ann Roberts was pleased.

"The BGSU students are very creative," she said. "They have done excellent presentations bringing in lots of resources, like literature, to tie into the lessons."

Ms. Haney said she's interested in pursuing the collaboration.

"I think we'll have a winning combination for years to come," she said.

Contact Rachel Zinn at:

rzinn@theblade.com

or 419-410-5055.



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