Pop bottles will be the main material in Cape Breton school's greenhouse

Students at Coxheath Elementary in Cape Breton plan to add a greenhouse to their schoolyard this spring made out of roughly 3,000 two-litre pop bottles.

The bottoms of the pop bottles will be cut off so they can be stacked on top of each other. The stacks will be held together using wooden dowels, then arranged side-by-side to fill in the walls of a wooden frame.

Student Eli Cunsolo-Willox's carpenter dad has agreed to build the wooden frame. The end product should look something like a see-through garden shed.

"I think we've gained the knowledge that our planet is not doing so well ... that we need reusing," said the Grade 5 student. "It's super important because this is our life that we are trying to protect."

The students are getting some inspiration from an Australian man who has documented his own plastic bottle greenhouse online, said Kim Corbett, the lead teacher on the project.

Holly Conners/CBC

The school already has an outdoor garden. The greenhouse project got its start through a program that helps students who struggle academically to find their niche through project-based learning.

"The fun thing about project-based learning is that you don't realize that you're meeting outcomes for mathematics, language arts, science," said Corbett. "Because this is a sustainable venture that we're taking on, so that's our science."

The goal is to use as many recycled materials as possible. The bottoms of the bottles will be used as planters for the greenhouse.

"We're going to put it up in the courtyard and we're going to put vegetables and plants and flowers in there," said Grade 4 student Zoe Wilson.

The students will be charting their progress through blogging and social media posts. They're also looking for bottle donations and have only collected a little more than 100 so far.

They plan to start construction in the spring.

Plastic bottles 'can last a long time'

Corbett hopes to develop curriculum out of the project that other schools can use in the future.

Grade 4 student Lily Moussa envisions a legacy for the students that will stand in their schoolyard long after they've graduated. She hopes the structure will still be operational in 300 years, noting plastic bottles "can last a long time."