Student Steps to Reduce Plastic Pollution

Students Combine Arts and Innovation in Design-Thinking Challenge to Reduce Plastic Pollution

Students in sixth grade science have been studying the effects of plastic pollution on the environment. With the opening of our new dining hall, students noticed a large number of disposable water bottles being discarded every day and decided to start a campaign to eliminate the need for this single-use plastic.

The Design Challenge

Students began with a question:  “How might we motivate students and teachers to bring their own reusable water bottles to the dining hall?”

The Design Goal

To reduce the number of disposable water bottles used at Benchmark to zero by next year.

The Design Plan

With the help of our art teacher Mrs. Fox and technology tools like CANVA, the students designed and created a sculpture made of discarded water bottles to draw attention to the problem. This sculpture and educational installation is currently on display in the lobby of the Performing Arts Center.

Bottles arranged in windows

Students are preparing slides that explain the urgency of taking action to solve this problem, and they will present this information to each classroom in the lower school and middle school.

In February and March, students will run a contest between the orange, blue, and green houses to see which house can score the most points for remembering to bring a reusable water bottle to the lunchroom each day.

It takes 450 years for plastic bottles to break down

Impacts/Outcomes

This design challenge has given the students many opportunities to work together to solve problems while being guided through the steps of the design thinking process. They are very proud to be making an impact in solving a real problem in the world today.

What the Student Problem-Solvers Say


“My favorite part of this project was building all of the parts and signs for the sculpture.”
-Kate Monahan '22

“I am looking forward  to seeing the whole school start to use reusable water bottles; I am so happy this project got so far.”
-Astrid Davis '22

“My favorite part of this project so far is doing teamwork with my friends to make this project happen.”
-Ben Russell '22

When you visit the PAC lobby, be sure to examine the powerful installationand bring your own reusable bottle!

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About Benchmark School

Benchmark School, located at 2107 N. Providence Road, Media, Pa., is an independent, not-for-profit day school serving students in grades 1-8. Founded in 1970, the school is committed to helping bright students who have yet to reach their academic potential become confident and strategic thinkers, learners, and problem solvers who meet with success in school and life. For more information about Benchmark School, please call 610-565-3741 or visit BenchmarkSchool.org.