Creating Beauty From Trash
This year, Mr. Swanson’s 4th-6th grade students have been learning about the negative impacts on the Earth from items like single-use plastic and the over-consumption of the material in general. To see this in a real-life setting, the class collectively picked up trash along the coastline of Grant Park Beach in September. Twice a year Mr. Swanson’s students have an “environmental fun day” where they have the opportunity to do their part and help clean up the often polluted beach. Most of the trash picked up is composed of plastic—the class even found remnants of shotgun shells that were washed up onto the beach from a nearby range! This service day pairs well with the students’ class lessons on the importance of our water systems and how plastic does not decompose, therefore often ends up in our water and washed along beaches.
The inspiration for the “Trash Trout” or “Trash-idermy” project came from Mr. Swanson’s experiences during his trip to South Africa. It was there that he was inspired by the townspeople he observed who sat along the roads, making colorfully-beaded animals for sale. Once he arrived back home to the U.S., he got to work on the frame for the Trout Project, which he made from bending wire into the shape of the fish. He chose this specific animal because a trout is familiar to our state and it has beautifully-colored scales that can be made from beads (and “Trash Trout” is a very catchy name, of course!)
Soon after, the class as a whole began their work adding to the construction of the Trout. The plastic that was collected from Grand Park Beach serves as the bottom part of the fish and the shotgun shells are also incorporated into both the body and used as the eyes. An old rusted bucket that they had picked up from the beach was cut into the shape of fins. Finally, in order to mimic the shiny-colored look of a trout’s spots, various colored beads are strategically placed all along the body. Not only did the fun project encourage collaboration and creativity from Mr. Swanson’s students, but it also illustrates the sad reality of how much plastic and pollution can pile up onto a single beach! The Trash-idermy project is now completed and mounted onto a piece of rustic driftwood and is available to purchase through bidding at the 9th Annual Gala this Saturday!