By Melanie Petrucci, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Floral Street School art teacher Robert Wilson has created a unique learning experience for his fourth-grade students. Through a grant from the Corridor Nine Area Chamber of Commerce, Wilson’s students will learn the paper recycling process from start to finish and create beautiful handmade paper from wastepaper.
The chamber annually awards small grants to local educators through its Mini-Grant Program, which recognizes teachers who are holding the “fabric of our schools together.” Funding for grants comes from chamber member donations.
The concept behind Wilson’s grant application, titled “Waste Paper, Not Fiber,” is that the project would not only raise visual awareness of how paper is recycled, but also enable student creativity in reusing the fibers from recycled paper.
“This project will demonstrate to the students how simple reconstituting paper fibers can be,” Wilson said. “They will also be surprised to see how easily the recyclable process can be done at home. Even though this is a simple process, the amazing part of making paper is the unlimited ways one can affect the paper’s appearance by placing additives, such as twigs, seeds, leaves, colors, textures into the pulp.”
He plans on carrying out this project with all of his fourth-graders during the school year, as well as through a summer enrichment course that he designed.
“When this project is completed for this school year, I estimate the numbers of students who will have participated in this project will be close to 300,” Wilson said. “I imagine the project can be done again and again as long as the blenders I bought with the mini-grant are in service.”
With the funding from this grant, Wilson purchased five blenders needed for the project to be used with the paper shredder and other supplies he already has. He has made a model piece to show the students, which is three round pieces of re-formed paper. There is a large 9 inch circle and two 4 inch circles. The students will create a spring theme by gluing the smaller circle on to the larger one, creating a pocket in which they will place items of spring. The entire artwork will be glued to a larger piece of heavy paper and placed on display.
The Corridor Nine Area Chamber of Commerce Mini-Grant Program provides grants of up to $400 for projects that benefit students from kindergarten to grade 12. The program is designed to support the development of innovative teaching ideas and increase student motivation and enthusiasm by providing funds for instructional experimentation and enrichment activities.
Applications may be submitted to Corridor Nine Area Chamber of Commerce in October and will be reviewed by members of the School/Business Partnership Committee. Awards will be made in November.
For more information about the Mini-Grant Program, contact Chamber President Karen Chapman at KarenC@corridornine.org.