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RE: Lesson Plans using recycled materials/ $100


From: Sears, Ellen (ESears_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue May 20 2003 - 05:43:41 PDT

I have a friend that goes by the name 'Junk Genius' - he works as a
custodian, but really makes a living going to schools to do workshops.

He is brilliant - I have done several presentations with him at science
conferences and he is amazing. He talks about growing up in the projects
and being outside playing and shots ringing... having to amuse himself with
things he made... his mother not paying the phone bill to buy the robot he
wanted .... throwing it down the stairs to see if he could open it to see
how it worked... and then having to explain to his mother what happened.
She would never buy another new toy - but took him to Good Will all the

When he was in middle school he burned a hole in the heel of his sneaker and
put a Christmas tree light bulb in so that it would light up when he walked
- BEFORE the shoe companies did... but every one laughed at him for coming
up with the stupid idea.

everything he makes is from recycled materials - he spends hours building
out of cardboard and scrap - vending machines (that work) robots, detailed
sculptures out of cardboard - he has an entire village made out of Q-Tip
people (like Kramer's pasta people)... interactive games out of pizza boxes,
anything....and when he comes to our school - any school - everyone - adult
and child - is amazed with what he creates with junk.

I spent 3 months with classes creating with materials we could scavenge
together - we became a third world village that received a shipment of cast
offs and we had to barter and create objects to sell (functional and
decorative)... sculptures, figures, prints...

I have posted before that I feel guilty about the materials that sit in my
room - knowing others don't have it - and I have threatened to not order
anything else until everything is used up in my room - EVERYTHING! - but I
like playing with the good stuff too -

I am saddened by the fact you only get $100 - my first year I had $300 for
1200 students grades K- 8 - four schools. First job - sounded good to me!
I know there are schools where the situation is unbelievable - counting out
paper clips in the office to fill a request, no pencils for students... in
this day and age - in this country.

I admire any educator that keeps going back to that environment.

You can teach on $100 - but you should never HAVE to.....