Sometimes we can all be guilty of taking an “out of site, out of mind” approach to litter and pollution that are the byproduct of living our daily lives. We’ve all seen bottle caps, cigarette butts, and plastic bags tumbling and floating along the sidewalks.
Many of those bottle caps and cigarettes end up washing into our rivers by riding the torrent of stormwater after a heavy rain. However, the village employees and students at North Middle School are teaming up in a unique way to heighten awareness about stormwater pollution.
Science students recently worked tirelessly to create a giant fish with recyclable items they collected for several weeks. The fish is meant to serve dual roles. First, it’s an artistic portrayal of what ends up in the river, and is meant increase awareness. Second, it’s literally keeping those items that are part of its design from reaching waterways.
“I think it’s nice that we can take recyclables and keep them from ending up in the water, but also make something cool out of it,” said seventh-grader Grant Kosanke.
It’s fitting that Kosanke and his friend, Michael Handler, helped out on creating the fish. Both of their birthdays fall on Earth Day.
The students’ fish will become quite recognizable over the next few months. It will be set up outside Fire Station #3 on Lilly Road, and will also be featured in the Memorial Day and Independence Day parades in Menomonee Falls.
“It’s been great to just watch them take off with the idea,” said Darlene Riefel, a proud seventh-grade science teacher.
Village employee Louis Thon designed the framework for the fish, which is complete with hinged fins to make it through doorways. However, the partnership between the village and North runs even deeper. Riefel said they have designed an entire research unit related to issues with stormwater. Students will write a research paper about a topic related to stormwater management.
“We are really trying to bring awareness to rainwater and stormwater pollution,” said Environmental Coordinator Nancy Greifenhagen. “It’s exciting to see something that started as a small idea continue to expand.”
For the past two years, the village has hosted a stormwater exposition to inform the public about pollution and other water issues. Now, on the verge of its third installment, Greifenhagen said they are continuing grow the village’s awareness efforts by working closer with North students.
The next stormwater expo will take place from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., May 10 at Fire Station #3, W140N7501 Lilly Rd. The village is also hosting a river cleanup event from 9 a.m. to noon, April 21 at Rotary Park.
“It’s a really good feeling helping out the environment in some way and make a difference,” said seventh-grader Madison Bomm.
For more information on upcoming events, visit the stormwater section on the village’s website.