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Lynnwood second graders curate museum art exhibit to shine a light on the Arctic

The students at Spruce Elementary hosted an international arctic design contest to inspire other kids to learn more about the Arctic region.

LYNNWOOD, Wash. — A local elementary school teacher is using her unique field experience to teach her class empathy for the Arctic.

Her students have responded by making changes to help the environment at the district level, and curating an artshow to shine a light on the delicate ecosystem. 

Jennie Warmouth has been teaching second grade at Spruce Elementary for more than 20 years. She was one of 45 Grosvenor Teacher Fellows with National Geographic and Lindblad expeditions to travel to the Arctic island of Svalbard. Warmouth brought the information she learned about polar bears, global warming and plastic pollution back with her, and shared with her students.

"My goal was to connect our school community with the Arctic region," Warmouth said. "Upon my return, my little second-grade environmental advocates successfully changed our school's single use plastic policy with ocean health in mind.”

The kids successfully removed 70,000 single-use plastic sporks from the district's environmental footprint. However, they didn't stop there. 

The students also hosted an international arctic design contest to inspire other kids to learn more about the Arctic region. This year, the contest had 95 submissions from around the United States. Warmouth enlisted the help of National Geographic explorers, photographers and videographers to serve on an expert panel, and the kids also learned how to critique and select pieces for a curated show at the National Nordic Museum in Seattle.

A selection of the finalists was on display for the National Nordic Museum's Earth Day exhibition and can be viewed in a virtual exhibit here.

"We were looking for art that made us feel empathy and care for the Arctic's habitat, we are worried about the survival of the animals there," Warmouth's class said in a statement. 

"The purpose of the Arctic design contest was not just to curate, but also learn about pollution and the effects of microplastics, macroplastics and global warming. Now, we want to know how you are going to help."


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