Discovery School second grader Halle Setso gets a little help screwing in bottle caps. (Courtesy Vanessa Tan)

Discovery students turn ugly problem into eco-art solution

Second graders develop bottle cap mural

It’s been months in the making but a special project by a primary class at Discovery Elementary School in Shawnigan Lake was finally unveiled to the world on Friday and it’s a stunner of a collaborative art piece.

“The best part of working on this project is that we did it all together like a team, it wasn’t just one person,” explained Grade 2 student, Mia Sampson.”

The eye-catching mural the class created is called: Plastic-Free Salish Sea and it was completed by the students in Ms. Vanessa Tan’s second grade class.

“Back in January, our class was on Green Team for school grounds clean up. The students were shocked by how much trash we collected from our school grounds, especially the amount of plastics we picked up,” Ms. Tan explained. “We got involved with the Canadian Geographic Energy Diet and one of the challenges that our team completed was to up-cycle materials into an art project. During our research, the class was dismayed to learn that only nine per cent of plastics end up being recycled, which is one reason why there is so much plastic waste in the sea.”

Ms. Tan said their Plastic-Free Salish Sea bottle cap mural is “a colourful answer to the plastic problem our world is facing.”

Her students, hope to inspire other students at other schools to create their own bottle cap murals, “to turn an ugly problem into an eco-art solution.”

Second grader Isaac Martin took it a step further, saying: “We made this mural so more people would remember to reduce the amount of single use plastics we use so we can take better care of the environment.”

The class hopes the Royal BC Museum takes note of its efforts. Their goal is for the mural to be displayed at the newly opened Orcas: Our Shared Future exhibit.

As for the technical bits, and to really make the project come to life, the students were fortunate to be able to consult and collaborate with Coast Salish artist Crysta Bouchard.

“The class was determined to do an orca mural because for the past few months we have been on a deep dive exploration of the southern resident killer whales thanks to the Royal BC Museum’s Orca inquiry guide and web resources,” Tan explained. “We loved the idea of using the orcas in the form of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle triangle, and Crysta did a fantastic job centering that idea in bringing her artistic vision to this project.”

The project and the lessons it offered will long be remembered with great pride by those who worked on it.

“We learned a lot about plastic,” said Grade 2 student Emmett Edison.” A lot of people don’t know that plastic never goes away it just breaks into littler and littler piece called microplastics that fish can eat. Then it is an even bigger problem.”

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Discovery School second grader Aidan Melanson concentrates on painting the mural design. (Courtesy Vanessa Tan)

A sneak peak of the mural being created by Grade 2 Discovery School students. (Courtesy Vanessa Tan)