September 16, 2014

Medina
Mostly clear
56°F

Whatever floats: Students use discarded plastics to construct rafts

Cameron Hynes, a Medina High School junior, flipped over in his raft Thursday while participating in the school’s “Junk Boat Float,” which had students using post-consumer material to make rafts. Hynes’ teammate, Jake Bronson, swam over to help him out. (Photos by Maria Kacik, The Gazette.)

Cameron Hynes, a Medina High School junior, flipped over in his raft Thursday while participating in the school’s “Junk Boat Float,” which had students using post-consumer material to make rafts. Hynes’ teammate, Jake Bronson, swam over to help him out. (Photos by Maria Kacik, The Gazette.)

MEDINA — Medina High School sophomores Christina Biggs and Lauren Greenya slipped off the raft they made and into Forest Meadows Lake several times over the course of the 15 minutes it took them to go halfway across the lake and back in their contraption.

“I think we put on the best show,” Greenya said as she made it on shore, facing the upper-50-degree temperatures while sopping wet.

About 75 students from the school gathered at the lake Thursday to test 26 rafts they designed out of post-consumer material. Rafts were made with used hula hoops, Styrofoam, milk jugs, wooden beams, a pool cover and an old kiddie pool.

“This is so students can show their ingenuity and creativity in drawing awareness to marine debris,” said science teacher Jessica Niemanstverdriet.

She and fellow science teacher Rosemary Balsinger took a course through The Ohio State University this summer and found there are floating “junkyards” in the oceans caused by pollution. Niemanstverdriet said one area floating in the Pacific Ocean is twice the size of Texas.

Medina seniors Nicole Jankowski, left front, Jaime Walt and Teresa Schwendler, rear, pull their raft “Mom” to the shore after the raft came apart. (Photo by Maria Kacik, The Gazette.)

Medina seniors Nicole Jankowski, left front, Jaime Walt and Teresa Schwendler, rear, pull their raft “Mom” to the shore after the raft came apart. (Photo by Maria Kacik, The Gazette.)

She said Thursday’s competition was open to the entire school. Contestants had to employ used plastic materials in the construction of their rafts. They then raced other teams to points halfway across the lake.

“I would hope they learn a sense of community. I hope it would bring awareness to how much plastic they actually use,” Niemanstverdriet said.

Senior Tess Connors said it took her team less than three weeks to get enough water bottles to put together the entire raft.

“We had more than we needed because people use them all the time,” she said.

Sophomore Ashley Hansen said her team picked up bottles at the school stadium after football games. They had 250 bottles in just a few days.

Contact Maria Kacik at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@ohio.net.

Sophomores Lauren Greenya and Christina Biggs took more than 15 minutes to paddle their boat across the lake. (Photo by Maria Kacik, The Gazette.)

Sophomores Lauren Greenya and Christina Biggs took more than 15 minutes to paddle their boat across the lake. (Photo by Maria Kacik, The Gazette.)