Repurposing Recyclables

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Students Collect Thousands of Water Bottles and Help Create Outdoor Arts Pavilion

As part of the grade level’s compact curriculum, and with an eye towards 21st- century learning skills, Babylon Memorial Grade School fifth-graders from Rayna Zwerlein’s and Chris Tordy’s classes recently received an enriching lesson on the environment and the importance of recycling. Working with Brooklyn-based architecture firm Studio KCA, the students helped to create part of an outdoor pavilion made of 53,780 plastic bottles, the number of water bottles disposed of each hour in New York City.  

Out of the 200 designers who submitted proposals, Studio KCA was chosen to create this art pavilion on Governors Island based on their design/concept submission to the City of Dreams Competition, sponsored by the American Institute of Architects New York, the Committee for Emerging New York Architects, the Structural Engineers Association and the not-for-profit Arts Organization. The finished project, which will be approximately 40 feet by 18 feet by 15 feet and include the fifth-graders’ handiwork, will serve as the backdrop for this year’s summer arts events at Governors Island.

After collecting more than 4,000 bottles, the two classes helped bring the firm’s “Head in the Clouds” pavilion design to life. Using mesh wire and netting, the students worked with the architects to weave in the recyclable materials and add blue-colored water for accents where appropriate.

“This project served as a very visual reminder about the importance of helping the environment, in particular recycling,” stated Ms. Zwerlein, whose son, a former Babylon Memorial student, is a member of the firm. “With our compact curriculum approach to teaching,” she continued, “we are always looking for ways to provide enrichment to our students, and with our 21st-century learning standards, a great deal of attention is paid toward learning collaboratively. This project provided both of those educational benefits.”

As a special thank-you for all of their hard work, students will receive a reusable filter water bottle.