Newark tech students design Earth-friendly footwear

Seventh and eighth grade technology students at Newark Middle School recently learned the value of recycling by creating Earth-friendly footwear designs with everyday materials many would throw away.

Technology teachers Jarrad Bouchey and Todd Heinzman held a virtual version of this project during the COVID-19 shut down last spring and decided to do another one this fall. 

Since October, in-school and remote students have learned about recycling and reusing materials. Most of it ends up in landfills and, depending on the material, it can take many years to decompose.

Newark eighth grader Abdeielis Maldonado creates sneakers using recyclable materials.

Recycled aluminum cans can be back on a store shelf in six weeks. In a landfill, they take about 250 years to decompose. Most sneakers and other types of footwear are made with plastic-based components that can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. 

After learning about the problem, students were asked to design and make various types of footwear using common, everyday materials like cardboard, string, rubber bands, duct tape, Styrofoam and poster paper.

The challenge now is to consider if the prototype design works in terms of how they will hold up and function as intended. These prototypes won’t be worn, but Heinzman said the value of the project is to heighten students’ awareness about being environmentally conscientious. 

Hailey DeMeyer models the sandals she designed during class at Newark Middle School.

"I am impressed with the wide variety of ideas the students have had for their recycled footwear,” he said.

"Our hope is to create a more environmentally conscious student with this activity,” Bouchey said.

Eighth-grader Aiden Pallister uses tape and other household materials to create sandals.