Earth 2018

“How do we protect our planet?” When asked, these 4th-graders had useful, pragmatic ideas. They also said they feel “outnumbered.” “There are more people than us who don’t care about throwing plastic in the river.”

Mrs. Welch’s 4th-grade class of 2017-2018 studied the impact of human activities on planet Earth. Students investigated habitat loss, plastics in the oceans, ecosystems, and our interdependent relationships to all plants and animals.

Their explorations culminated in a poem, contracts between themselves and their parents, and drawings.

The drawings were then fabricated into metal by industrial artist, Ries Niemi. The students’ ideas represent encouraging reflections by informed citizens who choose to make the impossible possible.

Hexognonal thinking

Hexagonal thinking

Curriculum Designer Betsy Potash describes Hexagonal Thinking as “a method for considering the connections between ideas and finding the nuances in those connections.”

“When you place an idea on a hexagon, it has six sides where connections could be made to other ideas. When you place many ideas on many hexagons, the discussion about where to connect what will be different every time.”


The mural was originally located at Maritime Heritage Park, alongside Whatcom Creek under the bridge.  In 2019, it was relocated to the ASB (Aerated Stabilization Basin) Trail on the waterfront. This trail is also referred to as the New Waterfront Trail.

The community pitches in!

The community pitches in!

The mural at its current location on the ASB trail

The mural at its current location on the ASB trail

The mural at its former location

The mural at its former location

The mural at its former location

Photo credit: Lauren McClanahan

Drama World 2018

We Will Be the Ones

We can make a difference
Now we will never doubt
That the impossible is possible
We can change
Environments matter
We will never be known as a failure to our environment
We know we can change our environment for the better
Our actions have an impact
We can do something to help
Don’t rely on other people to help the environment
The earth is not our trash can
Don’t litter in the ocean
We can choose to destroy forests, or we can choose to help forests
Don’t rely on others to clean up the environment
Our existence depends on the environment
We will be the ones that save the world
We work with what we have, to make our world better
We will be the ones to improve the environment for the next generation
Everyone can have a part in changing the world
We can be environmental superheroes.
—4th-grade class, Ashley Welch, Teacher
Columbia Elementary School, 2018

The Drawings

Click on the images below to view the full gallery of drawings and how they look in metal.

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