• Fireweed Academy challenges young science minds
By Naomi Klouda
In case the Taipei 101 Financial Center in Taiwan isn’t a structure you’ve visited, it was ranked as the world’s tallest from 2004 until the opening of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010. It looks like upside down green planter boxes heaped to towering heights.
Aiden Pullman, a fourth grader at Homer Fireweed Academy, created a model of the Taipei from the shiny boxes, using an ascending order to convey the narrowness and height as it towers up to a narrow spire.
Next door, Nina Ellington gives a rendition of wonder that beat out the Taipei, the Burj Khalifa in Iran. Its piping soars 2,717 feet, enough space to house 900 apartments, Ellington wrote.
These were among the world’s wonders as Fireweed Academy held its annual Structures Fair Wednesday, concurrently with the West Homer Elementary Science Fair.
Six weeks of research, writing and construction culminated in last week’s Fireweed Academy Structures Expo, said Administrator Kiki Abrahamson. The models, along with story boards explaining projects, were on display while students answered questions on each structure’s distinct traits.
Lunch tables abounded with world marvels of architecture-turned-into- marvels of third-sixth graders’ creative imaginations.
Simon Lopez sat before the Taj Mahal, a romantic creation of boxes and papier-mâché domes realistic even on its foundation of a pizza box from Fat Olives.
“We made this box because none of the others was shaped right,” Lopez said. “We finished it off this morning because it was hard to get it right.”
Elan Carroll’s Lighthouse of Alexandria, also known as the Pharos of Alexandria, is an ancient work now long erased from its island. The tower was built between 280 and 247 BC on the island of Pharos at Alexandria, Egypt.
“Its purpose was to guide sailors into the harbor at night,” Carroll explains, while visitors admire the millions of sugar cubes it took to form its square wedding-cake like base and modern-like tiers. Rising to 450 feet, “It was the world’s tallest structure at the time. It was important to everyday life because Alexandria was the center of world.”
Carroll shows his carefully crafted lighthouse at the top. “They left a torch burning all night and carried wood up to the top to furnish the fire,” he said.
The students were able to recreate models of the world’s important structures with certain suggestive materials: Michael Butts’ Parthenon was instantly recognizable, built of paper towel roll columns topped and bottomed in flatness to show a simple Greek design for strength that has outlasted the centuries.
Solstice Kraszeski used pipe cleaners and molded styrofoam to recreate the Seattle Space Needle. “See, it’s slightly bent here, not a perfectly upright circle,” she indicates by the slight slant.
Others used elaborate materials like Kimberly Lynn’s Golden Gate Bridge. It’s an actual model built of wood, cables and hot glue rising over a body of water created by blue frosting.
Katie Clark’s London Eye is a bicycle wheel minus the tire, rotating with its spool-size containers meant to allow 800 people aboard for a unique view over London.
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