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Fifth-graders construct soda pop can recycling containers

By Staff | May 29, 2011

Imagine the following scenario: a class of fifth-graders are given a task to build a recycling bin from used pop cans. One automatically would think this could take days or weeks of excruciating torture for teachers involved. At the Faribault County Fifth-Grade Environmental Day Camp held Friday, May 20, this task took a mere 10 minutes.

A combined 250 students from six area schools participated in the camp and upon arriving, broke into 10 different groups to visit education stations relating to the environment.

This year, the highlight was the Wipe Out Waste station where students constructed a recycle bin out of used pop cans.

The first step called on the students and parents to bring in cans. Students answered the bell, bringing in more than 1,000 cans to work with for the project.

A local welder constructed the six recycle bin frames and parents were asked to drill a hole in the pop cans so a wire could connect them. Not all cans came with a hole in them, so it was high school student Alvin Goraczkowski’s job to drill a 3/16-inch hole on the same side of the opening of the pop can.

Then it was the students’ turn to get to work. Fifth-graders threaded a piece of wire vertically through six aluminum pop cans to give the bin structure.

The final step included the kids tying both ends of the wire to the frame and the outcome was a recycle bin. With each receptacle totaling 120 cans, the process only took the kids 10 minutes and the recycle bin was ready for use.

All six of the schools (Blue Earth Elementary, Winnebago Elementary, Maple River East, Maple River West, USC and St. Casimir’s) were able to take back with them a recycling bin to use somewhere in their building.

To build the six bins for each school, a grand total of 720 cans were used.

Organizers hope that through the building of the recycling bins, students will be more conscious of recycling while at home or school.

High school students also learned about the environment throughout the fifth grade field trip. A total of 43 high school students who have concerns about the environment led kids to their different stations and gave instructions on how to make the recycle bins.

While construction was taking place, high school kids would continue to inform elementary students on facts surrounding recycling.

“Did you know that a recycled pop can will be ready in 60 days for reuse?” asks Blue Earth Area High School student Collin Neinhaus to a group of fifth graders.

“With students of all ages being involved, everyone learns about the environment,” says organizer Brandee Douglas, assistant program administrator of the Faribault County Soil and Water Conservation District.

With the rainy weather last Friday, organizers had to scramble to find shelter for all 10 of the stations. Luckily groundskeepers at the Faribault County Fair came through.

“Everyone was so great in being flexible,” Douglas says. “Originally we planned on doing everything outside.”

At another station fifth graders stopped by Tree Trivia. David Bucklin tied history facts to tree statistics to develop a competitive game show between boys and girls.

Other stops along the way for fifth grade students included grossology. Here, students could be heard around the grounds laughing while learning interesting facts about skunks, snakes and other smelly critters.

All of the other stations focused on environmental topics such as: mysteries of the Minnesota River, scrambled animals and a reptile show where kids squirmed when they saw slithery snakes.

With a day of fun and education, everyone involved left with ideas of how to make the earth a better place.