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Celebrate Earth Day at Buffalo Museum of Science

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Tue, Apr 10th 2018 07:10 am
Eventful April 22 includes 'Pollution Prevention through Art' exhibit along with colorful rain barrels created by local students; 'I am the Solution to Plastic Pollution' demonstrates effects of plastics in the environment, ways to reduce plastic usage
The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning and its environmental partners are inviting residents to celebrate Earth Day at the Buffalo Museum of Science on Sunday, April 22. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., visitors will be able to participate in hands-on Earth Day activities throughout the museum, as well as view a student-inspired rain barrel display and artwork created from single-use plastic bags and developed by students from across Western New York.
The artwork on display is part of a project titled "Pollution Prevention through Art" that makes the connection between litter, stormwater and plastic pollution.
The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning was joined in coordinating and conducting the project by the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Buffalo Zoo, and the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute, along with Modern Disposal and Hyatt's Creative.
Students used thousands of single-use plastic bags to create the art and sculptures on display at the museum, which opens on Earth Day and stays through May.
A total of 42 art projects were submitted by area schools as part of the "Pollution Prevention through Art" program, and 17 were selected for display in the exhibit. An example, "Terror of the Sea" by Ms. Weber and Ms. Grimaldi's third-grade class at Alden Intermediate School, can be viewed here.
"These artworks and rain barrels combine artistic expression and environmental awareness into thought-provoking presentations that demonstrate the depth of knowledge and care that these students have for the world around them," Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said. "I thank the team at DEP and their partners for invigorating student discussion and expression with this project, which helps students to not only better identify and understand the environmental challenges their generation faces, but also to interpret their response to those challenges in artistic and profound ways."
The program began last November when 68 teachers from around the region gathered at the Buffalo Zoo for an all-day development session on issues surrounding single-use plastics. Since that time, these teachers have been leading their students through a S.T.E.A.M. curriculum highlighting topics such as litter, stormwater management and ocean gyres. Teachers engaged students to better understand their role in plastic pollution prevention and discussed ways that students and their families can be part of the solution to the problem of overuse of single-use plastic, such as plastic bags.
"The Buffalo Museum of Science is thrilled to be a partner on this project," added Marisa Wigglesworth, CEO and president of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences. "We are pleased to host this artwork, which has been created by students and inspired by science."
The "Pollution Prevention through Art" exhibit is included with general admission and free for museum members.
Also on display are nine painted rain barrels from local schools that were submitted as part of the Western New York Stormwater Coalition's annual art contest. For the sixth consecutive year schools and organizations throughout Erie and Niagara counties participated in the popular rain barrel contest, which challenges entrants to learn more about storm water pollution prevention and how it keeps pollutants out of local waterways, and then portray that knowledge in a vibrant, colorful way on a rain barrel.
This year, 53 rain barrels were submitted by area schools, and nine were selected for the art exhibit. In total, 2,658 students were involved in the program from more than 55 Western New York schools.
"Merging the beautiful artwork the students created with environmental science the teachers offered made this a lifelong learning experience for each student," said Tiffany Vanderwerf, chief conservation officer of the Buffalo Zoo. "With this project, students gained a deeper understanding of the effects of plastic in the environment, but also learned about personal actions they can take to reduce those plastics."
Stormwater is rain and snowmelt that flows over hard, impervious surfaces like rooftops, driveways, streets, and parking lots. Along the way, contaminants such as lawn chemicals, automotive fluids, pet waste and litter are collected. These pollutants end up in waterways when it rains.
A key to preventing stormwater pollution is to utilize green infrastructure solutions. Green infrastructure is a collection of practices that capture runoff and allow it to infiltrate the soil as nature intended. One easy and important green infrastructure practice is storing rainwater for re-use by using a rain barrel. Other methods include planting rain gardens to naturally soak up and filter the runoff, or simply disconnecting gutter downspouts from a home. Using these practices, thousands of gallons of storm runoff can be reduced, keeping pollutants out of rivers, streams and lakes.
For more information on the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning, visit http://www2.erie.gov/environment/; on the Western New York Stormwater Coalition, visit http://www2.erie.gov/environment/index.php?q=western-new-york-stormwater-coalition; on the Buffalo Museum of Science, visit http://www.sciencebuff.org/site/index.php.

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