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This week The Whale Company visited Si Ri Panya School to deliver their unique environmental Bottle Board Project. Carlos and Carolyn led our students through an entire day workshop to make a stand up paddle (SUP) board using plastic bottles. Teamed up with Trash Hero Koh Phangan, they brought their exciting education project to Koh Phangan to help raise awareness and inspire children in resolving the escalating problem of plastic pollution in the ocean.
Their Bottle Board education workshop was something all the teachers and pupils at Si Ri Panya were excited to get on board with! Meeting inspirational role models whilst having a practical, memorable learning experience was a un-miss‘able opportunity for our wonderful students. Many students at our school already have an interest in the environment and volunteer at the local beach clean ups as well as using reusable Trash Hero bottles in school to reduce creating more unnecessary plastic pollution in our environment.
The Whale Company came to visit Si Ri Panya School to build a stand up paddle (SUP) board out of up-cycled plastic bottles.
Carlos and Carolyn gave a presentation about how the state of plastic pollution in the environment inspired them to begin their company. Children found out how plastic is ending up in the oceans, killing animals and is ending up in our food chain. The children are very passionate about animals and looking after the environment so they had many questions to ask and their own experiences to share.
Teachers and pupils from Elephant, Dolphins, Owls and Eagles Classes aged 8 to 11 years took part in the workshop. Two volunteers Petra and Valentin from Trash Hero Koh Phangan also attended to help out. Several of our pupils who regularly volunteer with their families at Trash Hero's Sunday beach clean ups wore their yellow Trash Hero t shirts for the day to support the message about keeping the beaches and oceans clean.
The day entailed a carousel of activities involving several stages. First, cutting bottles to make a sleeve, sanding certain parts of the cut and full bottles and filling them with air using a bicycle pump. Next children added their own creative designs to their bottles, then they were all connected using a special expansive, waterproof glue before finally strengthening the board with PVC piping.
Carlos and Carolyn worked tirelessly throughout the day to create their Bottle Board with the children. It was more challenging than usual since we could only source water bottles which are all slightly different shapes. They did a great job to make one board in just one day, as they usually complete the process over two days. A huge well done to them and the children for working so hard!
Parents were very supportive of the project and helped children collect and clean used 1. 5 liter plastic bottles, removing the labels and leaving the lids on. The Trash Hero team also helped to source additional materials that were needed such as the PVC piping, nails and the bicycle pump.
We ideally needed fizzy drinks bottles as they are made from thicker stronger plastic than water bottles. However, with the abundance of water bottles residents consume on the island, we used the resources we had available for educational and demonstrative purposes. Children successfully learned both the techniques and steps involved in making a board as well as the message behind The Whale Company's creation, that plastic can be up-cycled into something with value rather than just throwing it away.
The children learned many valuable skills: teamwork, resourcefulness, and practical skills in design technology, the science behind the shape of the board and how air can be used to increase the weight of a bottle including the fact that each 1. 5 liter bottle holds an amazing 1. 5kg in weight. Children practiced their math’s skills to calculate how many bottles would be needed to make different sized boards for people of different weights. They used their creativity to think of new ways to reuse plastic and also learned how our choices can affect the world around us from the state of the ocean to micro plastics entering our food chain. Finally, of course, they learned how to make their own paddle board by up-cycling plastic bottles.
We are so pleased to be making links between education and taking care of our environment. Children are the future and they have been inspired by Carolyn and Carlos to spread their knowledge with others. We are very proud of our students who show caring and responsibility for nature and the environment. They were enthusiastic about finding a new way to make something valuable out of plastic which can be used to promote a healthy Earth as well as enjoying a sport in nature.
No, the board has not yet taken its maiden voyage. Since the board is not quite as strong as the boards that Carlos and Carolyn have completed 12 marathons with, the bottle board will be displayed as a work of art at our school. It will serve to inspire further up-cycling projects, scientific investigations around water and environmental activities.
As it was the older students in the school that took part in the project, the older students will be explaining to younger children how they made the board so maybe children can go home and create their own as a family project when they've had time to collect plenty of 1. 5 liter fizzy drinks bottles. Perhaps we will even be able to hold a special event at the beach soon? Watch this space!
Families and children are welcome to get involved at the regular beach clean ups with Trash Hero Koh Phangan. We are dedicated towards working with the local Thai community to look after the oceans; the same message that our friends Carolyn and Carlos have brought with them while they have visited the island. For event updates follow Trash Hero Koh Phangan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/trashherokohphangan.