Students in the third, fourth, and fifth grade from Mesilla Elementary took part in a special project, combining elements of science and art to exhibit animals on the endangered species list. Students started researching animals on the endangered species list in November with their art teacher, Frances Gomez. Students were shown a PowerPoint presentation in class through which they learned about animals on the verge of becoming extinct.

Masks of endangered species made by students from Mesilla Elementary.
Mesilla Elementary students create masks of endangered species, using papier-mâché, plaster and paint.

According to the Animal Welfare Institute, under the Endangered Species Act, one out of four of the world’s mammals and more than 40 percent of amphibians are threatened with extinction due to human activity, including habitat destruction, over-exploitation, climate change and pollution, as well as human overpopulation.

Masks created by students from Mesilla Elementary.

“I was just very proud that the students were able to work together, because it’s very important, and something they’ll have to be able to do as they get older,” Gomez said. “I’m proud they were able to use the recyclable materials to make their masks. I tend to push my fourth and fifth graders. I try to find middle school activities that keep them engaged and challenge them. These students really stepped up to the challenge, and I’m very proud of them.”

Mesilla Elementary students create masks of endangered species, using papier-mâché, plaster and paint.

Students learned team-building skills as they worked together in groups of 4-5, developing ways they can do their part at home to reduce their carbon footprint. Students brainstormed ideas such as no longer using plastic straws, switching from plastic bags to recyclable bags when grocery shopping. Students created masks of endangered species, using papier-mâché, plaster and paint. Some of the masks that now decorate the school’s hallways feature the polar bear, spider money, whipped tailed lizard arctic fox, Sumatran Elephant, Hawksbill turtle, Pygmy three toad sloth, Vaquita dolphin and the Mexican  Gray wolf.  There was a total of 28 Endangered Animals represented in this lesson from New Mexico and other countries.

— Samantha Lewis, LCPS Public Relations Coordinator, 575-527-5946, slewis@lcps.net