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Shiloh Elementary School students take recycling to the next level

Shiloh Elementary student winners are pictured, from left, Karli Moody, 10, fourth grade (second place); Becca Jeffcoat, 6, kindergarten (second place); Marina DeLorenzo, 7, first grade (third place); Aaliyah Holloway, 7, first grade (first place); Taylor Dean, 10, fourth grade (first place); and Kathryn Shillingburg, 7, second grade (first place).

Have you ever tried to make a chair out of empty two-liter bottles, a game board out of bottle caps or a chandelier out of 12 ounce plastic drink bottles? What about a birdhouse out of a milk jug?

About 35 Shiloh Elementary students, in grades K-5, did just that recently, taking recycling to a whole new level. The school's Green Team, an afterschool club, hoped to teach others about recycling and how to care for the environment.

These students already help with recycling paper, plastic bottles and bottle caps. But this year, members wanted to do something bigger, more creative.

"We've been trying to help the school go green," said fourth-grade Shiloh teacher Kate Milutin. "We've been doing this for a couple of years, so I have an after-school science club called the Green Team and every year we try to add a little bit more, try something else to help the school go green."

The result -- the first "Recycled Invention Convention," a contest among members that would test their creativity. The criterion for the contest was to use recycled materials or material left from another project, and create something usable.

"We kind of left it open," Milutin said. "It could be a musical instrument, an art project -- we really just wanted it to be something they could use again."

Three winners were chosen from each of the three categories (K-1st; 2nd-3rd; and 4th-5th grades). A group of judges, mostly pulled from Central Services, cast their votes over a week-long judging process and the six top vote-getters where named.

First-, second-, and third-place ribbons were then awarded to the winners. After the winners were chosen, all the projects were put on display at the school and parents were invited to view their hard work during an open house.

After all the projects were judged and winners chosen, each class at Shiloh took turns touring the exhibits. "A lot of kids are excited already for next year," Milutin said. "Next year we hope to get even more students involved."

The activity was fun, but the lessons learned will last a lifetime. "We wanted to teach students to reuse materials when possible, not just throw everything away and expect to replace it with something else," Milutin said.

The not-so-obvious teaching moment, however, was stimulating the student's creative thinking skills. "This was higher-level thinking skills," Milutin said. "They had to figure out how they were going to use things, what materials they wanted to use. If they wanted to make a car, for example, how would they make the wheels? Some of the projects light up, so they had to figure out how to make it light up. It was pretty cool."

For more information about the Green Team, go to their web site.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: May 18, 2011 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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