Dr. Edward L. Whigham Elementary School in Cutler Bay conducted its eighth annual World Wetlands’ Day Cleanup and STEAM Science Showcase on Saturday, Feb. 2, attracting more than 140 participants, with families, students, staff and community members.
Taking place at Black Point Marina/Biscayne National Park Jetty, the participants collected more than 340 pounds of trash — mostly plastic including plastic water bottles, plastic bags, straws and other debris — working from 9 a.m. until noon. Although the weather forecast called for storms, the weather turned out beautiful with no rain.
International World Wetlands’ Day is a worldwide event celebrated every Feb. 2 to mark the anniversary of the signing of an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands in 1971. The purpose was to inspire others to get involved in protecting coastal wetlands, bay waters and ocean from pollution.
Adrian Delesdernier, Whigham Elementary teacher and World Wetlands’ Day Cleanup coordinator, thinks the effort is paying off and is encouraged.
“When we started this event eight years ago, we could see the effects of plastic pollution on our ecosystems, but it seemed impossible to ban single-use plastics,” Delesdernier said. “Now here we are years later and many cities, states and even countries have learned the importance of making the environment a priority.”
STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics.
Students enrolled in Whigham’s WAVE (Whigham Aquatic Visionary Explorers) Academy promoted the event through a poster contest where the theme was “Wetlands and Climate Change.”
The event featured a number of interactive exhibits including building natural water filters with different materials, testing the quality of the local waterways with Earth Echo International Youth Ambassadors Domingo Cortinez and Maria Torres, learning about sea turtles, manatees and conservation with a special exhibit sponsored by Seaquarium and Whigham parents Julie and Matt Heyde. Also participating was Louis Saenz, third grade math and science teacher at Whigham.
Elementary student Demari Wilson enjoyed the outing.
“I had an amazing time with the Wetland Cleanup,” Wilson said. “We experienced seeing a squid and a hatched egg. The highlight of the day was the experiment of what is the best way to filter the muddy water. It was the leaves. We have a new appreciation for the environment.”