Catherine Ross, Plano Journalist
Students send messages to one another via balloons.
Students at Cockrill Middle School in McKinney who released nearly 500 of balloons with poetry and QR codes have received responses from a school three hours away.
The project grew out of a simple lesson plan to work on origami.
"We figured we could make something more out of the project," eighth-grader Kate Lawrence said.
Several art classes put their heads together and decided to include haiku poetry -- including personal dreams, hopes and expressions of thanks -- within the folded paper. Another student suggested attaching the poetry to balloons and releasing them near the school.
They also added a high-tech twist to their modern-day message in a bottle.
"We made a QR code that attaches to the origami so that when someone scans it, it takes them to our blog," teacher Chris Grider said.
Most students didn't think the balloons would travel much further than McKinney, but they soon received responses from as far as three hours away.
A woman who works for the school district in Harmony found some of the balloons stuck in a fence.
"She kept on seeing them day after day and was wondering, 'Why are these balloons here?' so she decided her art class would write back to us," Lawrence said.
After finding the Cockrill students through their blog, the other school sent back its own poems and origami creations.
"And now we're going to write back," seventh-grader Billy Taylor said.
Grider said he hopes his students learn a valuable lesson about the power of art in communication.
Lawrence said she also learned its role in bringing people together.
"Just one small thing can make a chain reaction," she said.
Grider estimates his students have received about 30 or 40 responses, about two dozen of them from the junior high school in Harmony.