SOAR has a serious side in its missions to help kids find ways of helping the ocean and watersheds throughout the world. I started on having seen hundreds of albatrosses killed by plastic debris at Pihemanu (Midway Atoll). I was inspired by the questions of young people in Ohio and by USFWS biologists working hard to protect endangered species and damaged habitats.

SOAR has a very fun and tough to define side.....thanks to FRED AND FRIENDS, Project SOAR helps with watershed and ocean workshops throughout the world, and generally makes people smile while they learn some tough stuff about how we treat our rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and the one ocean on planet earth..........


SOAR introduces young people to ways they can make a difference in their local community and the wider world.

Take advantage by:

1) Invite a SOAR learning kit or bring Ron Hirschi to your school as a guest author or speaker for your organization. Ron has many years experience as an author and as a biologist. SOAR adds another dimension to his list of hands on projects he shares in writing, art, and ecology workshops.

Many schools invite Ron for his work as author of more than 50 nonfiction books, including many with ocean themes. Others bring him to school as a scientist or artist, but the best fit is always when schools use Ron to help them integrate curriculum.

Tom Bates, Principal at Tremont Elementary in Ohio recently said in an interview following Ron's visit, "What stood out to me was how Ron was able to gear his activities and discussion and information so it was meaningful to the students, whether they were in kindergarten or fifth grade."

Be in touch at whalemail@waypoint.com for visit information.

2) SOAR now has a new kit circling the globe along with a Laysan Albatross "Friend of Fred". This duo is packaged with a box full of ideas, activities, information about Papahanaumokuakea, ocean debris, and other materials aimed at sparking new projects related to the sea. Also included is a journal chronicling Fred's adventures, all of which began when kids at Columbus School for Girls (CSG) learned how they could take action to help the ocean.

Currently, this treasured package is in the hands of The Bush School in Seattle.

NOTE: You might also be lucky to receive one of the earlier packages with a FRED and Friend, already traveling. To date, Fred has visited Australia, Switzerland, Israel, England, The Dominican Republic, and many corners of the United States.

23 March 2011

FUSED PLASTIC PROJECT NUMBER ONE......Saving Albatrosses One Plastic Bag at a Time!


Created after Beach Cleanups with
Bags, Plastic Film, Bottle Caps, Recycled Phone Wire, Found Objects

I photographed these on one of the beaches where I pick up plastic.

If you look closely, you will notice that one of the closures
(Middle Bag I call "Move over Gucci")
is a Monopoly Hotel found on this beach.

The red plastic is a mix of bags and film from a local grocery store.
It is thin. It would otherwise be tossed in the trash
and was originally used to wrap pallets of frozen food in shipment.
Bag used in far right piece is combo of this and an empty Sunflower Seed Package.


If you are familiar with fused plastic........
sort out some bottle caps, selecting soft ones, not those
with a rigid feel to them........
You can fuse the bottle cap between layers of plastic bags!
(The Green Blotch on the middle bag is a former bottle cap
that melted nicely, fusing elegantly into the red plastic)


I just started doing this for a project with kids in a couple weeks,
so I am having a lot of fun learning on their behalf.
The basic steps I've followed:

1) Sandwich about four or five layers of plastic bag
between PARCHMENT PAPER that is placed on a hard, flat surface.
Make sure the plastic is inside the parchment 'sandwich", especially if using
your only iron. I've been reusing the same piece of parchment paper
that is about three feet long and folded in half.

2) Press down hard with a hot dry iron, using a bit of circular motion
to heat the plastic uniformly. Again, make sure the plastic is tucked in between the
layers of parchment paper.

3) As the plastic fuses it simply flattens out and you can easily flip the
parchment sandwich to fuse both sides. 

4) Continue pressing as if ironing a shirt, tucking edges over as you see the
now fused sheet form into a more rigid piece. It stiffens quite a bit.

5) You can now cool the sheet and form as you wish or simply use to cut out fish, trees, flowers,
or other shapes.........All suitable for outdoor uses!

The above pieces were single sheets. I folded them over, then fused at edges to form pouches.
No additional work was required to fold the flap. The sheets from this batch
were pliable enough to simply fold. I then punched holes in the sheets where I wanted
to attach the bottle cap buttons and "sewed" them on with recycled phone wire.

I'm now experimenting with bottles, frisbees, toy soldiers, and other found
plastic trash I collect pretty much everyday at the beach........

Thanks to Michelle Kaskovich for the Inspiration!


The bag on the far left incorporates plastic mesh that fused
nicely with the red sheeting. Sharon Buda and I picked 
the mesh from a beach the other day after she and I had
presented at the NAEA Convention in Seattle.
You will be seeing a lot more use from this type of mesh bag,
one of the most common beach finds in recent months. Like
Bottle Caps
It comes in many bright colors and is a type of plastic that easily fuses!

Have Fun and Malama i ke Kai

1 comment:

RAD - Dot Painter said...

Hi Ron,
It was so nice of you to stop by my blog. You are an inspiration for conservation. I need to incorporate a hands-on conservation element to my presentations. Reading your ideas is helping a lot!

I also wanted to talk with you on how you get sponsored to travel with your books to schools and integrate your curriculum with other teachers.

My email is art@racheldillon.com. I would love to hear from you when you have the time.

X310 Plastic Ocean Activity

It's me, Fred, the Monkey.

If you look closely, you can see I wear X310's leg band around my neck. It's to remind me of her. She was a Laysan Albatross. She was born in March 2008 and lived on Pihemanu, one of the most remote atolls on earth, now part of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

You can wonder about Pihemanu and about X310. She didn't live very long, dying in June 2008. Her parents flew thousands and thousands of miles finding food for her. But x310, like lots of baby albatrosses died before she got to soar the seas. Some albatrosses fly three million miles during their life. Like X310's parents, their sea is a new challenge in food finding because of our actions on land.

Adult albatrosses fly more than a thousand miles just to get a single meal for their babies. But the ocean is full of plastic. And if you read my buddy, Ron's blog and website, you learn about plastic in the sea. It is everywhere and babies like X310 die because they eat so much plastic, they can not get it out of their stomachs.

Where's all this plastic come from?
Where does it go?

Here is a simple activity:

Get up from your chair and walk around the classroom or wherever you are sitting.

Write down each thing around you that is made of plastic.

Everybody compare lists and make a total of the plastic products.

Now, the hard part of this activity:

Can you find alternatives for the things you use, alternatives not made of plastic?
Maybe start with drinking water from a fountain or glass or reuseable container?
Maybe start a really good recycling project?
Maybe make some art from recycled plastic?
Learn more on links here on this site and others.
Talk about times with no plastic.
X310 would have appreciated if people, just a few years ago had decided to make a plastic-free world for you....
You and X310.

Learn how you can SOAR with FRED by arranging a visit with Fred and his ocean teaching kit by emailing his banana provider at whalemail@waypoint.com


What you need:

Pint size plastic beverage container with wide mouth (about 1.5 inches) ---This approximates the size of a baby albatross stomach and esophagus.

Important to have the lid too.

Enough plastic items (bottle caps, toothbrush, legos, fishing line, small chunks of nylon rope, markers, pens, more bottle caps and even a few more bottle caps since they are pretty much the most common marine debris.

Talk with your audience of kids of any age about ocean debris and the way adult albatrosses fly out a few hundred or even a thousand miles to find flying fish eggs and squid for the little ones. They return to Pihe Manu or up on the Northeast shore of Kauai, find their young one among thousands of others and begin to feed by regurgitating "food".......

As you talk about this, have the kids place one or two pieces of the plastic into the bottle.

Replace cap with each addition of plastic. Shake gently to mimic bird moving around the nesting area a bit.

Remove cap. Shake gently to mimic the bird trying to dislodge "food" that can not be digested. In a perfect ocean, this would be squid beaks, fish bones, or other natural pieces of food.

Add more plastic, repeating above until no plastic falls out of the bottle when cap is removed (bill is opened) and the bird tries and tries, but can not toss up the mass of debris. See how much and how many different kinds of plastic can be added. Does the rope tangle with the legos and bottle caps. Do five bottle caps cause a blockage in the esophagus???

In nature, the upchucked mass is like an owl pellet and is known as a bolus. Natural foods slip freely through the esophagus and more feeding can continue. Most times, a baby albatross will toss up one bolus before leaving the nesting island. Unfortunately, thousands die because plastic blocks the stomach completely.

Your feeding the baby albatross activity can lead to a lot of discussion of plastics we use, discard, then find their way into the ocean and into the mouth of a baby albatross.

If you want to have a Baby Albatross Feeding Kit, complete with some plastic items that actually came from once living albatross at Pihe Manu, Papahanaumokuakea, be in touch.