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Making music out of ordinary trash

Published: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 10:39 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 10:42 a.m. CDT
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(Doug Oleson – doleson@shawmedi)
Kevin Sullivan of DeKalb puts the finishing touch on his box guitar.
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(Doug Oleson – doleson@shawmedi)
Debbie Pixton (right) and Patty Ruback help Ruback's daughter Saige on her guitar.
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(Doug Oleson – doleson@shawmedi)
Edith Craig of the DeKalb library helps Kevin Sullivan of DeKalb attach the neck of his guitar.
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(Doug Oleson – doleson@shawmedi)
Isabella Loftus of DeKalb works dilligently on her project.
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(Doug Oleson – doleson@shawmedi)
NIU outreach coordinator Mary Baker shows Isabella Loftus of DeKalb how to make an adjustment to her instrument.

DeKALB – A cardboard box, popsicle sticks, rubber bands, masking tape, an empty salsa jar - most people don’t see anything special in those common household items. They are eventually thrown away and end up in a landfill. But they don’t have to.

“You can find things and make amazing things out of them,” Debbie Pixton, communications associate of the Division of Outreach Engagement at Northern Illinois University, told a group of youngsters during a program at the DeKalb Public Library last Wednesday.

The program, “Bright Futures: Recycling Rocks,” was presented by the P-20 Center at NIU as part of a collaboration with DeKalb County libraries. A similar program will be held at the Cortland Community Library at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 24.

According to Mary Baker, Outreach and Engagement Associate at NIU, the purpose of the program is to show people of all ages how to make recycling practical and even fun. It is part of a series of hands-on activities designed to explore the intersection of music, sound, and science.

in our culture of using, Pixton said learning to use recyclable materials means using up fewer new materials.

After a brief video, children were given materials and instructions to make a craft. They made guitars out of cardboard boxes, rubber bands and tape; cardboard rainsticks; and maracas made of rocks in empty salsa jars. They performed together as a band before receiving books about recycling to take home.

John Sullivan said he and his two sons - Brandon, 9, and Kevin, 7 - were just returning some library books when his sons heard about the program and wanted to participate.

Cheri Loftus said she she was at the library earlier, picking out books, when her 5-year-old daughter, Isabella, found out about the program and was so intrigued she wanted to stay for it.

Past programs in the series have included Celebrating Sound, simulcasting with NIU”s School of Music, and Mobile Musyc, using iPads to create a concert. Pixton said future programs are Circuit Bending in May, rewiring toys to make crazy cool electric sounds, and Bright Futures Fair in June. The fair includes the DeKalb Municipal Band and will be held at Hopkins Park at 5:30 p.m. June 10. All events are free.

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