Students work together for several weeks to understand what plastic is and why we're facing so many environmental challenges because of plastics today
Science and art are being combined in a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) TY Project coordinated by Calmast, Waterford Institute of Technology’s STEM outreach centre to tackle the problem of ‘one million in the bin’.
Recycle, reuse, reduce and replace
The project sees 19 TY students from Presentation Secondary School, Waterford research the issues we're currently facing all around the world and what is being done to recycle, reuse, reduce and replace plastics.
The TY students work together with about 60 primary pupils from Presentation Primary School Waterford who learn from their older peers, thus getting an understanding of plastics in a very engaging and very interactive way. The not only discuss plastics but also create an art installation together which will be exhibited at Garter Lane Arts Centre and open to the public from 15 to 19 January 2019.
Project combines science and art
Dr Cordula Weiss, Calmast Programme Manager explains that the project combines science and art in a creative, engaging and educating way.
“The pupils and students work together for several weeks to understand what plastic is, how plastics became so popular and why we're facing so many environmental challenges because of plastics today,” Dr Weiss says.
“According to a 2017 Forbes article one million plastic bottles are bought each minute. This means one million plastic bottle lids too, most of which are going to waste, but not necessarily in the bin. 80 pupils and TY students from Presentation primary and secondary schools in Waterford, however, have used those bottle caps to create wonderful art installations which will be exhibited at Garter Lane Arts Centre from 15 to 19 January 2019.”
Plastic waste becomes art
“Several pieces of art are currently being prepared, all based on plastic waste such as bottle tops and tiny toys. The project aims to raise awareness of what plastic means to all of us, of current environmental concerns and of trends in solving those issues,” Dr Weiss adds.
Plastic is a highly current topic – micoplastics are on the news on a daily basis, 'single-use' has just been chosen as word of the year and a new legislation on the use of plastic is under discussion.
Creative Ireland Programme Scheme
The project receives support from the Creative Ireland Programme Scheme and was developed by Calmast together with Senator Grace O’Sullivan, artist Rachel Smith and the support of the Garter Lane Arts Centre.
“We are living in a world of plastic pollution,” says Senator Grace O'Sullivan, Green Party. “Every time I walk the beach I find plastic bottle tops, fish netting, pieces of roping along the tide line. Tiny fragments of plastic are getting into the food chains of all species, including humans.”
“This exhibition by the students at the Presentation Schools Waterford draws our attention to plastics, art, science and the need to find solutions to the problems of plastic pollution,” says Senator O'Sullivan.
Clodagh Walsh, a teacher at Presentation Primary School Waterford, says “Presentation Primary School was very pleased to be offered the opportunity to participate in the project. The children learned about the importance of cutting down on single-use plastics. The topic of recycling was covered through art and science lessons which the children thoroughly enjoyed. We are thrilled to have the chance to exhibit the children's pieces of art in Garter Lane Arts Centre.”
Calmast, Waterford Institute of Technology's STEM Outreach Hub, works with schools, industry, other cultural groups and the public to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and a particular interest in working with the Arts in STEAM projects. The core value is 'STEM for all'. The centre works in a spirit of partnership in all things to engage as many as many as possible and, in 2017, reached 20,000 in the region.