Long Beach Island Grade School’s ‘Waves of Debris’ Installation Merges Art and Environmentalism

Spreading Awareness of Marine Pollution
Jun 14, 2017
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

No one likes a dirty beach, but disposable plastics and other trash often end up in the marine environment. To bring awareness to this issue, students and staff at the Long Beach Island Grade School created an art installation titled “Waves of Debris,” assembled from discarded plastic single-use water bottles, plastic bags and wire.

The collaborative project – situated on fencing in front of the LBI School, in Ship Bottom – will be on display until Thursday, June 15.

As science teacher Cathy McBride and art teacher Lisa Benjamin explained, the school district received funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program and the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve – managed by Rutgers University – to help educate the school community, and the wider community, about marine debris.

“Among the most common items found as marine debris are old fishing gear such as crab traps and fishing line, as well as plastic materials such as bottles, caps and straws,” said McBride and Benjamin. “As one of the most widespread pollution problems facing Earth today, marine debris is affecting marine environments worldwide.”

To craft the installation, McBride and Benjamin developed an “Ocean Art Team” of fifth- and sixth-graders. “Students analyzed and organized recycled plastic materials and ocean debris collected by staff, students and families in the LBI School District,” the teachers noted. “Team members planned the large art installation for the fence of the LBI School playground in hopes of piquing interest and educating the local community.

“Waves were formed with discarded plastic water bottles, plastic bags and wire. Students from pre-kindergarten to sixth grade collected plastics and debris to create fish and sea turtle sculptures. The Ocean Art Team attached sculptures to the waves along with facts about marine debris and its effects on our oceans.”

“We are thrilled by the excitement of our staff and students in this dynamic outdoor art installation,” said Superintendent Peter Kopack. “To see the visual arts and sciences come together has really made people stop by to take pictures and discuss the importance of the issues at hand. It’s great to see the students get involved, and we appreciate the team efforts from our staff, students, and families.”

— Juliet Kaszas-Hoch


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