A day after sending into space, children at Saline Area Schools Summer Ed Camp reached new heights Thursday using spaghetti and gum drops.
About 100 children attended the morning event, which combined education and entertainment to boost excitement about the coming school year. Attendance at the event guarantees it will return next year, organizers said.
The kids spent the first hour Thursday learning some basics of engineering and construction and then set out to build their towers. Trying to use gum drops and spaghetti to build a tower that could stand on its own proved daunting.
Joel Benedek, a social worker at Heritage School, assisted at the event and measured each structure that stood an inch tall or higher. Most towers measured in the teens, but one reached a height of 36.5 inches.
“I was very impressed,” he said. “They were great, they turned out pretty good.
They didn’t consume too many of the supplies which is also good.”
Les Sharon, principal at and Jennifer Barnard of Saline Community Education teamed up again for the exercise. The program featured passing on some knowledge, but quickly got on to the task at hand.
“More education and more fun,” Sharon said. “Just to have fun, work on teamwork and give them some construction ideas and give them a shot.
“Kids love to shoot rockets and build things.”
The kids also learned about a reality of construction sites, that building materials are often tempting.
“I would say that stealing from the construction site was probably more gumdrops than spaghetti,” Sharon said, laughing.
The children received lessons in basic engineering and shown some examples of what they could do. From there, the students could follow those models or go out on their own, Sharon said.
“We are trying to work in a little of some of the engineering skills for the early elementary set,” he said. “We don’t go too heavy on the mathematics. No trig, just basic measurements.
“We get them excited about building something.”
Besides putting what they learned into practice, the kids had fun at Sharon’s expense.
“They got to see a rocket blow up in my face,” he said with a smile.
Now Sharon and Barnard will go and discuss what they learned from this year’s event and see how they can improve on it.
“It was a lot of fun,” Sharon said.
Barnard was equally excited. Sharon and Benedek’s participation was welcome and she hoped more professionals in the district would get involved next year.
“Definitely need more activities like this,” she said. “Great way to get the kids back into getting ready for school.”