An Ocean Transformed

Foss Waterway Seaport Image

2016 ADDITION to this exhibit - Plastics Pilot Program
The Foss Waterway Seaport and the Ikkatsu Project, with funding from the Puyallup River Watershed Initiative and The Russell Family Foundation, piloted a March – June 2016 program that offered one middle school science class in six school districts located in the Puyallup River Watershed an opportunity to learn more about plastic pollution, perform a field investigation to determine if plastic pollution is a problem in local waters, submit data and samples collected for analysis and document the experience through film and photography.

Come see the results of our study processed in University of Puget Sound biology might be shocked! View plastics collection nets designed by students.

An Ocean Transformed - art with a message, is an educational exhibit featuring marine debris sculptures designed and built by students from Sherman Elementary School (Tacoma Public Schools) as part of 2015 Seaport education pilot program.

The Foss Waterway Seaport in partnership with The Ikkatsu Project, KPFF Consulting Engineers, Sherman Elementary School PTSA and local artists offered this innovative pilot program.

The pilot gave six classes at Sherman Elementary School the opportunity to design and build a marine debris sculpture for display at the Foss Waterway Seaport. Each class partnered with a local artist who mentored and guided the class through the building process. Students received engineering concepts lessons from local engineers (KPFF Consulting Engineers) to learn what compression and tension are, which helped students better understand how to design their sculptures.  As part of this project, students collected trash, recorded data based around their trash collection, designed a sculpture, built the sculpture, kept a detailed journal as a record of their adventure, while photographing each step of the journey from start to finish. Wheee...what an experience!

The five amazing sculptures invoke strong visual messages and are sure to encourage best practices in everyone who views these wonderful art pieces. The students, their teachers and the artists have worked very hard to produce this outstanding exhibit. Plan to visit the Seaport to see the exhibit, enjoy the students’ creativity and take to heart the messages they impart!

WHY this program?
The word “plastic” is used to describe a collection of artificial or man-made chemical compounds that come in as many shapes, sizes, and colors as you can imagine! Foam carryout containers (made of polystyrene) and bottle caps (made of polypropylene) are types of plastic that would be considered plastic marine debris if found in our oceans or waterways. In Tacoma, plastic waste accounts for about 10 percent of our total garbage. Sadly only 9 percent of last year’s total plastic waste was recovered for recycling. Did you know that Tacoma consumers use over 80 million single-use shopping bags every year.

Marine debris is any man-made, solid material that enters waterways directly through littering or indirectly via rivers, streams and storm drains. Marine debris can be simple items such as a discarded soda can, cigarette butt, or plastic bag that ends up in the ocean potentially harming marine life. Nearly 80 percent of marine debris originates from land-based sources. Plastic marine debris is a huge problem in our oceans!

Why is Marine Debris a problem, you might ask...
Marine debris can kill and injure marine wildlife through ingestion and entanglement, disperse invasive species, endanger human health, cause damage to shipping vessels, and hurt businesses and tourism by polluting our beaches and coastline. Plastic debris is especially threatening because of its ability to absorb and concentrate toxic pollutants.

The Seaport and its partnership hope with the pilot program we have given students a voice in which to shout out their sustainability messages to a public audience. Additionally, student enjoyed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) experiences, along with writing, creative thinking, and many of the Science and Engineering Practices associated with the Next Generation Science Standards.

Program Partners - The Foss Waterway Seaport, The Ikkatsu Project, KPFF Consulting Engineers, and the Sherman Elementary School PTSA

Teachers and their Students - Ron Stanley (Kindergarten), Shelly Castro (2nd), Zoe Zachmeier (4th), Uyen Christiansen (4/5 GATE), Jules Boyd/Sophia Nimlo (5th)

Artists - Lisa Mellinger, Kris Vermeer and Carrie Ziegler

Program Funders - Jan and Mike Adams and Jan’s dad, Tom Baer