I once joked with a coworker that I could turn anything into an Iditarod related lesson, and today I found another example!
I had a chance to visit the Anchorage Museum, which is one of my favorite museums. They have an amazing exhibit on the history of Alaska, a fantastic kids area, and the beautiful Smithsonian Arctic Studies gallery of Native Alaskan culture and artifacts. They also have an area where they host changing exhibits.
This year, the changing exhibit is called Gyre: The Plastic Ocean. A gyre is a swirling vortex in the ocean. There are gyres in each ocean. The gyres are massive, slow moving, whirlpools that sweep garbage into them. Discarded items can be pulled into gyres where they slowly are pulled in the whirlpool and are pushed towards the center where they form floating garbage piles in the ocean. You can learn more about gyres here: http://5gyres.org/
This is, of course, a problem for marine life who often misinterpret the waste as food or are caught up in the plastics especially.
The Gyre expedition and exhibition is the result of a team of scientists and artists who explored the coastlines of Alaska and collected plastics most likely deposited from the North Pacific Gyre. The exhibit was a sobering reminder of what we are doing to our planet.
The artists who were included in the exhibit took different approaches to the project. Some displayed found objects as they were, which was sobering. Some made juxtapositions between the ugly trash and the beauty of the environment in which they were found. And still others used the found materials to make something new. Like this dog sled and team!
Wouldn’t this make a neat art project? Could you and your class create a life sized dog team from recycled materials? And there’s a perfect tie in between plastics in our oceans and the Iditarod!