Harrisburg South Trying To Help Clean Oceans


Harrisburg middle schoolers are coming up with innovative ideas to stop or reduce ocean pollution. 28 billion pounds of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Their three-week project is forcing them to think creatively and connect with business professionals around the world. 

This may be one of the loudest libraries in KELOLAND but that’s just how Harrisburg South Principal Darren Ellwein likes it. 

“This really is our makerspace and we don’t want it to be quiet which probably will send shivers up some librarians neck. We want this to be a place where they can think, innovate and create,” Ellwein said.

As you can see, that’s exactly what students are doing today. They’re being asked to come up with prototypes that could help rid the ocean of harmful plastics. 

“It’s a like a fish tank filter but it’s going to be a lot bigger,” Pierson said.

Sixth-grader Hannah Pierson is having a blast. At the end of the period, students are recording what they built into an app that can be viewed around the world. 

“I love doing this. It makes my mind work more. I think it’s a lot better way of learning,” Pierson said.

You never know what ideas could rise to the top. Wendy Dooley with the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship is on hand to encourage the students to think big. 

“Don’t get so nervous that in an hour you haven’t come up with the best idea yet. I’ve got entrepreneurs that have been years in the making in this and are finally in that next phase of actually bringing it to market. It’s been a lot of fun,” Dooley said. 

It’s an authentic experience for the kids instead of just having them read from a book. 

“They need experiences where they can really dig in and drive their own learning,” Ellwein said. 

The school’s principal recently made a trip to Norway where the plastics problem is a hot topic right now. He says experts and business professionals from Norway and around the world will be giving the students feedback online over the next few weeks. 

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