Heidelberg DODDS students take a hands-on approach to recycling
HEIDELBERG, Germany — About 450 pupils from Heidelberg got to try their hand at making paper as part of their schools’ America Recycles Day program.
The pupils, from Heidelberg Middle School and Mark Twain Elementary School, started out using old newspapers for their project.
Shredded paper was marinated in a vat of water overnight to soften it. Then it was ground up in a kitchen blender into a fluffy, wet mush.
The youngsters took turns dipping framed screens into the slurry mix, carefully letting water seep through before turning the newly created sheet of paper over to dry on felt towels.
“I’ve never made paper before,” said Enrico Tucker, 11. “I thought it was going to be harder, like gluing sawdust together.”
But the newspapers created a crusty, gray sheet, said Kina Stallings, a sixth-grade math and science teacher.
“It was very bland,” Stallings said. “So we started to use colored paper.”
Travis Frazier, 11, made two sheets of pink-speckled paper.
“Making paper is a hands-on project, something we don’t normally do,” Tucker said, showing off his creations.
Travis Vowinkel, solid waste manager for the Heidelberg military community, came up with the idea as a way to get kids involved in recycling.
Papermaking is a hands-on project that allows kids to respond, he said.
“They’re learning and having fun,” Vowinkel said.
America Recycles Day takes place Saturday with events in nearly every state, national program manager Steve Kullen said in a telephone interview. The annual event is in its seventh year.
Staff from the city of Heidelberg’s solid waste department supervised the children this week, adding tips for better results. The city coordinates similar events in local German schools, said Peter Schroth from the city of Heidelberg’s waste management program.
“It’s a great pleasure for us to work with kids,” Schroth said. “They are the future and they will have to care for the Earth.”