PRINCETON – Every year, in honor of Earth Day, PES teacher Angie Thompson assigns a unique project to her third graders, called “Trash to Treasure.”
The project requires students to transform recycled items and materials into new, useful “treasures.”
Thompson explained she first assigned the project to students in her first year of teaching. It was a final project for a recycling unit and when projects started rolling in she was “blown away.
“I couldn’t believe the creativity,” she said. “It was so much fun that I assigned ‘Trash to Treasure’ with every class I had after that.”
The project has expanded from Thompson’s classroom to the entire third-grade class at PES. It brings in about 100 recycled projects each year.
Thompson admits when she first assigned the project, her goal was for students to learn about recycling paper, plastic and glass. However, students took the project above and beyond when they brought in “treasures” that incorporated items like an old shovel handle, a rusty bucket and dirty piece of string.
“We are surrounded by so many treasures in this world. It’s all in the way we look at things. Sometimes I find myself digging through the recycling at home after seeing a fantastic idea,” Thompson said.
Monday, on Earth Day, the third-graders traveled room-to-room scoping out other students’ projects. In Thompson’s class, students used various recycled materials to create items such as a dress made from pop cans and two liter pop labels, a picture frame made from corks, a bean bag toss game made from old rags and bird seed for the bags and various sized plastic containers for the targets, bird feeders made from old bottles and even a purse made from an old basketball.
When mentioning the importance of recycling, Thompson used the example of when people talk about how wearing a hand-me-down shirt saves money. She added it’s also important to remember it saves water, energy and pollution, which is used to produce and ship the product.
“If everyone made a few more choices like that, it would make a huge impact on our Earth,” she said.
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