We are officially listed as a staff pick on Inside Schools!
This mural was created by 15 classes from grades 2-5 at P.S.197, with the guidance of our arts partner, Material for the Arts (MFTA). Each class worked on a panel and not only created a unique piece of artwork using recycled materials, but they also highlighted the excessive waste in our society. Our sustainability coordinator, Mr.Richford received a grant from the Office of Sustainability to fund the project, using MFTA as our arts partner. Our vision is teaching our students about the problem with plastic in our environment. By teaching through the arts, we feel students are more engaged and they became passionate about the project. We met with Edyta Halon (teaching artist from MFTA) and John Kaiser(office of education at MFTA) to discuss the scope of the project. We wanted to create a cityscape using recycled material depicting a sustainable city. We wanted to see: buildings with rooftop gardens, solar panels, wind turbines, recycling bins, trees, flowers and the iconic Parachute Jump in Coney Island, a Brooklyn landmark. Edyta then took all the elements we suggested and created a sketch of the mural. We measured where the mural would be installed and created the pieces. Edyta outlined the mural on plexiglass. The PS197 community then started gathering materials for the mural. We wanted to incorporate anything plastic. We collected, plastic bags, bottle caps, water bottles, buttons, beads, old, unused math manipulatives, straws, sporks and anything else the students brought in. We strongly believe that we are using too much plastic in our society and we want to reduce our dependency on it.
Each student from almost every class in our school got to work on a piece of the mural. We are very proud that so many students had a hand in the project and were impacted. They chose what material they wanted to work with and all of our classes had to work together with a shared vision to keep the mural pieces consistent.
When you look at it, it is hard to see what it is made of until you get up close. We are going to facilitate lessons next year just analyzing the mural. There are so many things you can do with a class around the mural. What kind of material was used? Why is this a problem in our society? How can we use less plastic in our lives? What are some ways we can reduce the amount we use? This project will become a springboard for many lessons around sustainability and the role we play in keeping our planet healthy!
We feel this mural is an amazing accomplishment and we want to share it with as many people as possible to start a conversation of how to take care of our planet.
As with any piece of art, different people see different things. The mural is a wonderful opportunity to start a conversation and try to change some of our habits so we can make the earth a better place to live. Our students are becoming advocates for the earth.
PS197 has been awarded several honors and grants for our sustainability efforts.