Where Art and the Environment Intersect

2015_16_JS_Butterfly_Garden_011With pollinators like bees and butterflies in dangerous decline and our reliance on them for almost 90 per cent of the world’s plants, a crisis is brewing and LCC students responded with fervor. Last spring, students from grades 3 to 11 literally rolled up their sleeves and got down in the dirt, creating a garden on the LCC grounds to bring back the butterflies.

The result was not only a garden with a variety of plants to attract pollinators. It was also a beautiful display of milkweed and towering sunflowers that were sure to draw the attention of the artist’s eye. And they did.

Sylvia Tracy’s grade 3 art class had already studied Van Gogh, so a newly planted garden with blooming sunflowers just steps away was serendipitous. “It was a great opportunity to observe the sunflowers and see how they look from up close,” says Ms. Tracy.

The students first did observation drawing, emphasizing the shapes that they saw in the leaves. They were asked to draw what they saw and not rely on any preconceived ideas of how they thought the flower appeared. They learned how to observe, focusing on the texture of the flower, its stem and petals.

In the following class, students turned the drawings into relief prints, recopied the flower onto Styrofoam printing plates and then printed them on different coloured paper. These vibrant creations now adorn the walls of the Junior School hallway. “It’s a wonderful thing to be able to take advantage of nature right here at our school, in the middle of the city,” says Ms. Tracy.

As for the butterfly garden, Jean-François Maurice, Social Science Teacher, is working toward having it recognized with an official certification from monarchwatch.org. “This one project has brought together students from Junior, Middle and Senior School,” he says. “It has served an environmental purpose as well as inspiration for our budding artists. What a success.”

Cleaning Up the Local Beach in Eckernförde, Germany

RS_Com_Service_GermanyWednesday was service day at the Round Square International Conference in Louisenlund. I was assigned to a larger group of ~60 delegates, all of whom would be participating in a cleanup of a local beach in the town of Eckernförde, just off the Baltic Sea. When we first arrived, I remarked to a friend that there really wasn’t much to clean: the beach looked spotless!

Boy, was I ever wrong.

We split into two groups and got our hands dirty, closely inspecting the sand for any trash in need of proper disposal. Amazingly, after a short half hour into our search, we had amassed several bucketfuls of various types of trash, including cigarettes, straws, wrappers and other unrecognizable pieces of plastic.

On Tuesday night, we were shown a clip about the staggering “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” It explained how the plastics in most consumer goods degrade extremely slowly in the ocean, though ultimately disintegrating into microplastics, or tiny pieces of plastic less than five millimetres in size. These plastics become extremely difficult to filter out from the seawater because they are so small, yet they still pose a deadly threat to animals and to other members of the aquatic and even terrestrial ecosystems.

We were stunned by just how much garbage we had collected during our short walk on the beach, especially after having been told that the particular beach we were on was being thoroughly cleaned weekly by the tourism office of the town. All the plastics we had found had essentially been washed ashore by the rolling waves of the Baltic Sea within the preceding few days, which is extremely concerning, especially seeing that we barely notice the issue of our polluted oceans on a day-to-day basis. –Adam Vandenbussche ’17

Impressive Iceland

IMG_1083Reporting LIVE from Germany: This is Abby writing on behalf of the entire LCC Round Square Conference Team and sharing with you our adventures encountered during our pre-conference trip to Iceland.

On October 5th, my group and I all met at the Montreal airport filled with excitement as well as 20 kilos of every single type of clothing we could fit into our bags (as Icelandic weather was a mystery to us!) Two plane rides later, a four-hour time difference and barely any sleep, we landed in Iceland and met the four other schools we were going to spend the next few days with. As we were all tired, we mostly spent our first day driving into Reykjavik, the capital of the country, and stopping to sightsee along the way. We explored Viking World where we learned about the history and culture of the country. We even got to go on a boat at the museum! 

The second day was jam-packed. We started off by visiting the Golden Circle, which is a huge waterfall! After having barely made it out alive due to the strong winds, we got back onto the bus and went to go see geysers. This is where I learned that Iceland is home to thousands of geysers that contain an abundance of sulfur. Steam would be spraying out of all these holes and, for the biggest one there, it would explode every 15 minutes. I was lucky enough to see the geyser’s water burst up into the air and even fall all over some of my friends on the trip that, without knowing, were in the “splash zone.” Finally, at night we went to the Blue Lagoon. Personally, this was my favourite part of the trip. We got to swim in an actual hot spring! Our group went very late at night, which made the experience even more memorable as we were entirely in the dark. We all got to spend two hours in the lagoon, which was warm and incredibly wavy. This was scary for me since we were told that it was not a good idea to get our hair wet in the water as it would become hard. I therefore had to bounce around and “ride the waves” to ensure that my 5’1 body would not dunk under the water. We all had a superb time! 

On our final day, we put on our raincoat and saw lots of Iceland’s best waterfalls. Some of them, due to the wind, would even stream upwards, which was quite funny to look at. During one particular waterfall visit, we got to make a wish in the country’s finest wishing well (legend has it that, if you watch your coin make it all the way to the bottom of the water, your wish will come true!) After this, we did our big adventure of the day: glacier hiking. We were given crampons for our feet and ice picks and got to hike all around the ice. This was a cool experience as not only was it fun but we also learned a lot about global warming. Iceland’s glaciers have been melting. Two weeks ago, they installed something that would measure how much ice is melting and the result was unthinkable. For example, one part of the hike was through a tunnel, which was one of the best parts. I was sad to hear that, at the current rate the ice is melting, the tunnel will probably be gone in the next two days… 

All in all, this was a great experience. Although the only thing we did not get to see were the Northern Lights, we all feel as though we had a fantastic time. As we say farewell to Iceland, we cannot wait to see what the actual conference has in store for us. Stay tuned!  –Abby Shine ’17

Une activité de jardinage pour protéger les papillons

Butterfly_GardenChaque année, les papillons monarques font un voyage de plus de 5000 km du Canada jusqu’au Mexique. Mais depuis quelques années, les populations de monarques ont atteint un creux historique d’à peine 33,5 millions en 2013, alors que leur moyenne annuelle avait été de 350 millions au cours des 15 dernières années.

Une des principales causes de ce déclin? La disparition marquée de la seule espèce de plantes dont se nourrissent les monarques et sur laquelle les femelles pondent leurs oeufs : l’asclépiade.

Le 26 mai, des élèves de 3e année à la 11e année ont participè à la sauvegarde des papillons en plantant des asclépiades, une plante vitale pour les monarques. Ce jardin papillon se trouve à côté du nouveau parking.

Vous voulez faire un petit geste concret et significatif pour protéger les monarques? Plantez aussi de l’asclépiade pour les accueillir chaleureusement cet été! Ce petit geste contribuera à créer un effet papillon pour la protection des monarques, qui dépendent de nous pour assurer leur survie.

Voici des commentaires d’élèves du junior school après l’activité :

  • «J’ai beaucoup aimé planter des asclépiades pour aider les papillons monarques à survivre. J’aime les papillons et faire du jardinage. J’espère que les papillons vont aimer nos plantations!» Vanessa Melki, 4e année
  • «J’ai trouvé que c’était une très bonne initiative de planter des asclépiades pour attirer les papillons monarques puisque ces insectes sont très beaux et peuvent embellir l’école.» Édouard Des Parois Perrault, 6e année
  • «J’ai beaucoup aimé cette expérience en jardinage parce qu’on a donné plus de beauté à l’école.» Adam Trasher, 6e année
  • «Just to think that this activity can bring beauty and wonder to our school and could change the way we live our lives.» Élan Martin-Prashad, grade 6
  • «J’ai beaucoup aimé planter les différentes espèces végétales parce qu’on aidait l’environnement et les papillons.» Amélie Stevenson, 4e année
  • «J’ai aimé jardiner parce que j’ai appris à mieux jardiner.» Brendan Singleton, 4e année
  • «J’ai beaucoup aimé planter des arbustes et enlever les mauvaises herbes du joli jardin.» Maya Lutfy-Friedman, 4e année
  • «I really liked gardening because it was fun to help out and help the butterflies.» Gianluca Pietrantonio, grade 4
  • «J’ai aimé faire le jardinage avec mon amie Annia. C’était tellement amusant d’aider ainsi les papillons.» Annie Shane, 4e année
  • «J’ai aimé faire le jardinage pour aider les papillons. C’était tellement amusant. J’aimerais le faire à nouveau!» Annia Sandler, 4e année

Nous tenons à remercier Greg Lynch de Mantis Environmental pour avoir supervisé la création du jardin, la fondation David Suziki qui est à l’origine du projet: “L’effet papillon” ainsi que la fondation Monarch Watch qui nous a permis d’utiliser leur poster “Bring back the Monarch”.

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