TARPON SPRINGS — Leave it to a pair of 10-year-olds to build a better mousetrap — make that a greener greenhouse.
When their teacher, Melissa Hill, asked all of her gifted students at Sunset Hills Elementary School to create a project to display for Earth Week, Sarah Tinsley and Eleni Lambrianos, both 10, were inspired by the story of Reishee Sowa, a man who built an island from 250,000 plastic bottles.
Lounging on their own tropical isle sounded intriguing to the fourth-graders, but a bit impractical at this point in their lives, so they decided to scale it down a bit.
About 150 hours later, the pint-sized hothouse emerged: a 41/2-foot wide, 5-foot deep, 61/2-foot tall structure created from 2,150 water bottles, held up with PVC pipes and orange construction netting.
Clothes hangers were fashioned into plant hangers and leftover bottles containing soil and water now serve as terrariums for future plants.
"We collected most of the materials from the community," said Sarah, a resident of Tarpon Springs. "We couldn't possibly drink that much water ourselves."
Nothing went to waste.
Even the bottle labels and bottle caps were donated to individuals collecting them for charitable causes.
Their greenhouse is functional and saves money on water and power bills they say.
"A regular greenhouse needs fans to keep it cool and this naturally has holes for air flow so it stays cooler," said Eleni, a long-time friend of Sarah's who also lives in Tarpon Springs. "It also lets some rain in but protects the plants from heavy rains. And it filters sunlight."
They've grown strawberries in the greenhouse, but on Wednesday, only green leaves remained in the hanging pot.
"We ate them already," Sarah said.
Since the structure was built with 100 percent recycled materials, the only expense was that of gas used to collect bottles from participating businesses, churches and families.
"It's the cheapest school project she's ever had," said Charlotte Tinsley, Sarah's mom.
The girls are thinking of donating their science project to MOSI, the Museum of Science and Industry, in Tampa.
"Or we may put it up for auction and donate the proceeds to a charity," Eleni said. "If they don't use it for a greenhouse, they might want it for a dog house."
All we can say is Run, Fido, Run!
Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at firstname.lastname@example.org.