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OES students put imaginations to the test

Lucas Sereno (foreground) is feeling the pressure as Abby Barnewold and Dana Jones continue to work behind him. (click for larger version)
February 10, 2010 - It's safe to say that almost every great invention throughout the course of human history was first conceived in that limitless womb of ideas and theories known simply as the imagination.

Over the weekend, three teams of Oxford Elementary fifth-graders demonstrated how their imaginations could someday help solve the world's problems by participating in the annual Imagineers contest.

Held at the Oakland Schools building in Waterford, the contest featured 29 teams from eight schools.

Each team was challenged to design and build a project to "fill a need and solve a problem."

Prior to the competition, the students spent countless hours after school creating, tweaking, constructing and reconstructing their projects in preparation for the big day.

Using specified household materials, K'NEX toys (a modern version of Tinker Toys) and three mystery items, each team of three students must reconstruct their model for judging during the contest.

"They have an hour to build their stuff from start to finish," said OES teacher Mary Kraniak, who's been advising Imagineers teams for seven years now.

Judging is based on creativity, functionality, integrity of construction, conformance to submitted design and effective integration of two of the three mystery items.

As always, the creative OES teams came up with some unique projects.

"The Invasion Invaders" team, which consisted of Lucas Sereno, Abby Barnewold and Dana Jones, built a machine designed to protect the ocean's sensitive coral reefs from pollution and nourish them.

They even built two types of coral a brightly-colored piece to represent a healthy specimen and a bleached-out piece depicting one that had been damaged by pollution.

Known as "The Ultimates," this team, consisting of Michaiah Thomas, Courtney Miller and Madison Dinges, built a special wheelchair that transports a disabled person around the house via an overhead conveyor as opposed to rolling along the floor.

The "Awesome-ossities" team, consisting of Travis Butler, Robert Rodriguez and Riley Feeney, decided to leave the bounds of Earth for its project.

They built a Mars station so human beings can finally live on the red planet and research our alien neighbor.

Unfortunately, none of the OES teams won at the competition, but Kraniak was nevertheless very impressed with all of their projects and hard work.

She's glad students have a program like Imagineers to apply what they're learning in the classroom.

"It's a really great way to get the students involved in problem-solving and working together," she said. "All the things we're trying to teach kids, it all comes together right here. That's why I like this club so much."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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