4-H Plastic Sculpture Challenge
Be an agent for change!
How are you and your family using plastic? Explore your own use and increase their knowledge of the wide world of plastics. Make an amazing piece of art by repurposing (upcycling) single-use plastics! You will show and share your project with other 4-H'ers online and in your community.
Choose from four activities to learn more about plastics and problems they cause. Find ways to be an agent for change.
Plastic is everywhere! Bottles and containers, toys and packaging… plastic makes life better AND creates a huge problem for our earth. Single-use plastics make up over 40% of our garbage. We recycle too little of what could be recycled.
Use plastic you find to create your art sculpture on a theme or message you’d like to use. Examples of plastics you could use: cups, bottles, bags, bottle caps, take-out containers, pieces of old toys and anything made of plastic that you find in your house or yard. Get some inspiration for your plastic art sculpture!
- Sculptures can be created by one 4-H'er or the whole family (all ages), but you must enroll in 4-H first. Join 4-H!
- If your artwork needs a base to stand on, it should be made of thin wood, plywood, fiberboard or similar material.
- Maximum size: 3 ft. wide x 3 ft. long x 6 ft. tall.
- Must be made of clean (washed) plastics.
- Must be multi-dimensional and free standing.
- Ready to hang if applicable.
- Suggested materials to attach items together: zip ties, string, rubber bands, art materials, colorful duct tape or electrical tape. Strong adhesives need to be used in a well ventilated area with adult supervision. For safety, DO NOT use a hot glue gun as melting plastic gives off toxic fumes!
- If your sculpture is big or heavy, consider adding wheels that lock in place or handles, so your sculpture is easy to move.
- You will need to give an artist statement of 50 words or less. After signing up, you will receive a link to this form. Your artist statement should have:
- Name(s) of artist(s)
- Title of your sculpture
- Statement about what you created and why
- Materials you used
- What you learned and how it will change your use of single-use plastics
- How can others reduce their use of single-use plastics?
If you are unsure about any of these guidelines, please contact your local Extension office.
Explore the many ways you encounter plastics in your home and life on a daily basis. Use the checklist to see what you find in your home, then consider ways to reduce your plastic use. Save your collected materials to use in the following activities.
- One day to collect your plastics
- 15-30 minutes to DO the activity and discuss what you did
Do and learn goal
Analyze how your family uses plastics and identify ways to reduce your plastic use.
Each year, 22 million pounds of plastic enter the Great Lakes, according to research by the Rochester Institute of Technology. The Great Lakes hold 90% of North America’s fresh surface water. Plastic takes hundreds of years to degrade, and even then it’s never really gone. It breaks down, causing harm to animals and wildlife, and can eventually be ingested by humans. Single-use plastics make up a large percentage of our waste.
Plastic is always present in our daily lives! It is a strong and useful material. For instance, plastic is critically important to protect health care workers. Disposable plastic gloves, face shields and packaging for sterile medical equipment are plastic products that keep health care professionals and patients safe.
It’s important for us to be aware – and be smart consumers – of when plastic is necessary and when it’s not. Each of us can think about the choices we make and how we can take actions that reduce our use of single-use
- Household Plastic Log, How Plastic-Free Can You Be?
- Pen or pencil
- Collected materials (Save your plastics in a bag or container; you’ll use them in Challenge Activities 2 - 4.)
Think about it
What types of plastics do you think we will collect today?
How many items will we collect today?
How full will our collection container be at the end of the day?
- Complete the the Household Plastic Log, How Plastic-Free Can You Be?
- Examine the assortment of plastics you collected.
- What item(s) did you find you collected the most, the least?
Think about the challenge
- How much plastic did you consume?
- Were you surprised?
- What unnecessary plastics did you use – and what is a good alternative?
- Would you get the same results if you tried this again? What makes you say that?
- What would you recommend to someone else who wants to do this project/activity?
- What did you learn in this project/activity?
- What action(s) can you take to reduce your plastic use? Choose one action to take!
- Estimate how your household checklist might change if you did this again in one week/one month. What would be different?
- Take the National Geographic Plastics or Planet Pledge
For simple ideas of how to reduce your plastic use you can watch one of the following videos:
- 10 Simple Ways To Reduce Plastic Use - For Kids!
- How to stop plastic pollution in 8 simple steps (for older youth)
Science and engineering practices
These are the skills used by scientists and engineers. You will:
- Plan and carry out an investigation
- Analyze and interpret data.
This lesson is adapted from The Alliance for the Great Lakes. (2020, April 22). How plastic free
can you be? Earth week challenge.