Pebble Hills High School students in an aquatic science class recently delved into exploring ways to conserve the planet, including an engaging lesson on creating edible water bottles as an alternative method for water consumption.
Aquatic science teacher Michelle Gomez said she hopes the project will help inspire students to reduce waste and find resourceful ways to use recycled materials.
“I just want to plant the seed to really help the students grow and think about how they can make this better or at the very least stop using single-use plastics,” Gomez said.
The project is part of their larger studies on plastics and their long-term effect on the environment. The students made the edible water bottles by combining two ingredients, calcium lactate, which works as a binding solution, and sodium alginate, which is what gives water in bottles its crisp taste.
Sodium alginate is safe to eat and is generally used in foods like cakes and cheeses, Gomez said. The sodium alginate coats the calcium lactate to cause spherification, which forms a bubble containing water that will dissolve once you put it into your mouth.
Some of the students sampled their edible water bottles and described the bubble’s texture as rubbery and jelly-like, but without taste.
While they had fun with the interactive project, they also embraced the larger lesson of finding ways to help the environment.
“This project is very important and a big step towards us conserving the earth,” said senior, Hiram Zacarias. “We need to start right now, since we have problems like global warming.”
Gomez said part of their studies was learning about how trash from the inland, even from a desert city like El Paso, will find its way to the ocean.
It can take 20 years for one piece of plastic to end up in the water, but it never breaks down or decomposes, it just becomes smaller, she said.
“We need to target our youth to be able to make the changes that we want in the future,” Gomez said.
For their next environmental project, students will work on creating reusable tote bags using plastic shopping bags.
“I think this is amazing and we should share this class with more students so they can see the effects of waste and learn how we can work towards changing the world together,” said senior Audrey Hernandez.