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posted: 5/12/2012 2:04 PM

Naperville's first EcoFest educates with recycled games

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  • Zach Lyonsford, 7, of Aurora plays milk jug toss Saturday during Naperville Park District's first EcoFest.

       Zach Lyonsford, 7, of Aurora plays milk jug toss Saturday during Naperville Park District's first EcoFest.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Isaac Marks, 8, of Naperville, plays "Knock 'em Down," Saturday during the Naperville Park District's first EcoFest.

       Isaac Marks, 8, of Naperville, plays "Knock 'em Down," Saturday during the Naperville Park District's first EcoFest.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Mike Detloff, a founder of the Northern Illinois Raptor Center based in Hoffman Estates, talks about red-tail hawks, the most common raptor in the world.

       Mike Detloff, a founder of the Northern Illinois Raptor Center based in Hoffman Estates, talks about red-tail hawks, the most common raptor in the world.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
 

The games at Naperville Park District's first EcoFest were as creative as they were recycled.

With names like "Recycle my Memory," "Bowl me over with Recycling," and "Sling my Bling," eco-friendly kids' activities drew more than 200 people to the two-hour event Saturday at the Riverwalk Grand Pavilion.

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"I think the premise of most of this is to get everyone out here and also to have fun using recyclables," said 16-year-old EcoFest volunteer Sam Bransby of Naperville.

The games, some of which were set up by the four members of Girl Scout Troop 50192, used recycled 2-liter bottles, plastic water bottles, cardboard cereal boxes, milk jugs and balls of tin foil. They allowed participants to play catch with a tin foil ball and the bottom of a milk jug, complete a puzzle made of cereal box pieces or sling squares of folded paper using a rubber band strung between overturned chair legs.

Girl Scout Mackenzie Hamrick, 14, of Naperville, said her troop approached the park district about hosting an event like EcoFest to help them attain the Silver Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout Cadette can attain.

The park district sponsored EcoFest to educate parents and kids about new environmentally friendly programs and exploration opportunities, especially those centered around the Seager Park Interpretive Center, which opened in October.

One educational aspect of the fest was a model of a watershed borrowed from Glen Ellyn-based SCARCE, or School and Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education. The model is designed to teach children about the negative effects of pollution giving a visual example of how pollutants end up in sources of drinking water.

Park district staff let kids sprinkle gray dust representing industrial waste, green powder representing fertilizer, or brown sprinkles representing animal waste onto a table-sized model of a community. Kids then took spray bottles of water to the spot they sprinkled and watched colored liquid trickle down into a small, clear pool meant to represent a lake.

Sandy Oxenknecht of Naperville explained to her kids, 8-year-old Kara and 10-year-old Kyle, that pollution is the reason their family doesn't use lawn fertilizer.

"It's cool to see how the pollution builds up in the water," Kara said after experimenting with the watershed model. "No one really thinks about it that much."

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