We did it! The North Canton Middle School eighth grade art classes finished their bottle tree a few weeks ago! We were lucky to complete this before the cold, wet weather set in. The class and I took one brisk, chilly visit out to the courtyard to finish and snap a few photos of the completed tree.
We would like to thank the very gracious local businesses and community members who helped support this project. Let's Care North Canton, North Canton Patch, Gervasi Vineyards and local residents who donated the glass bottles, Knoch Corporation who donated rebar, and Accent Concrete who lent their time and constructed the tree.
Our newly "planted" sculpture in the south garden of the courtyard took a total of 10 weeks to create and I'm proud of all the work the students have put into the project from beginning to end. Students worked in small groups to design a sculpture that would inform our community of an environmental issue they felt passionate about. Their ideas focused on issues such as pollution, deforestation, destruction of wildlife habitats and recycling. Each group spent time proposing their idea to our principal and then voted as a class on the designs OK-ed by administration.
The class chose to create a bottle tree made from recycled glass bottles with a recycled metal base that resembled a tree. Their message they hoped to send to the community is reduce, reuse, recycle. Students each painted one bottle with a message about the Earth and good environmental practices.
Besides being able to create and display a large sculpture here at our school, one of the most exciting things I took from this lesson is the information Shelley Cobb of Let's Care North Canton collected from my students. For her masters program, she wanted to do research to find out if students participating in such an art project would increase their knowledge regarding conservation even if the were not given direct instruction regarding it. What she was able to find was that environmentally centered visual art projects created a stronger desire to spend time outdoors and a greater sense of responsibility towards the Earth.
I have always been a huge proponent of arts education and the experience and knowledge students gain from the arts. If anything this project has only reinforced my passion for teaching art and my belief of the profound impact arts have on learners.