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A chain reaction of creativity

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Makenna Ciccarelli, Ashley Taylor, Evelyn Heemstra and Alexis Cook had a plan: their marble run would end with a glittery celebration.

“At the end, the marble is going to hit the golf ball and the golf ball is going to hit this cup and confetti is going to come out,” explained Makenna.

The third graders at Brown Elementary got to work. Using paper towel rolls, tape, crafty decorations, tiny cups and other items, they began to devise a route leading up to the dramatic finale they envisioned.

In STEM class, teacher Sheri Newenhouse is all about handing students the tools for a project, giving them a challenge and letting them run– or, like a marble, roll–with it. Third graders made marble runs with the objective of having their marbles go through a chain reaction. The project is part of the school’s Makers Month devoted to student creations.

Fourth graders made arcades, and second graders worked on board games. Before the mandated statewide school closure, students’ inventions were to be showcased in April during an “Arts in Our School” event.

Newenhouse stresses the need for trial and error and collaboration as students work like young engineers in her class. “One of the biggest challenges for them is working together,” she said as students worked in groups.

Jayden Smith agreed, as he and his group planned an obstacle-filled marble run. “Teamwork makes the dream work,” he said.

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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