• Fifth-grade teacher Jay Ward shows second-grader Branson Crocker how to wrap rubber bands around popsicle sticks to make a catapult.
  • Martins Creek Middle School’s Science Olympiad team celebrates their first-place win Thursday.

SCOUTING AROUND: Maker Faire showcases local talents

   There was something for everyone at The Learning Center charter school’s Maker Faire – music, food, technology, crafts and even furniture – all created by local makers and students.
   “We as a school feel it’s important to showcase talents,” said Cheryl Catuto, the school’s success coordinator. “There’s a lot of great talent in the school and community.”
   Student projects – whether solo, with a friend or family, or as a class – were about half of the 55 booths at the annual event Thursday.
   Now in its third year, the faire showcased the work of Western Carolina University’s engineering students and Tri-County Community College’s culinary program. Western Carolina students brought a 3D printer and introduced people to the school’s Rapid Center, where area industries can get help planning their ideas. Tri-County brought cookies for everyone to try.
   “We’re so fortunate to have them here this year,” said Julie Johnson, coordinator of the Maker Faire. “We try to provide a lot of hands-on education, and we feel like they are doing that on the college level.”
   Near Western Carolina’s booth, hands-on technology from instructional technology director Franklin Shook and student Ethan Lovingood were popular. Children enjoyed playing video games at Shook’s booth while waiting their turn to control Lovingood’s R2/D2 droid.
   Lovingood said he first thought it would be fun to let people make their own obstacle course, but he decided that creating one obstacle course for everyone to try would be best. Kids, mostly, used a tablet to guide the small droid built from a kit by Lovingood over a ramp, then around 3D Star Wars artwork created by friend Nathan Downs and his mom, Diana.
   “He is very hard to control,” Skylar Pendergrass said just after causing the droid to fall off the ramp.
   Surrounding the technology booths were crafters like student Brooklyn Johnson, with her sleeping mats for the homeless; Sharon Francis, with her rubber stamp greeting cards; and students Cameron and Livian Woody, with their jewelry and duct-tape creations.
   Students in the Academically or Intellectually Gifted maker club presented projects they had been working on all year. One of those students, Arianna Marescalco, sold out of stuffed animals she made based on the fantasy stories she writes.
   She decided to sell her work because wanted to make money to purchase a hamster for her brother. Before starting her project, she thought it would be easy, but learned sewing is not as easy as it seems.
   “It’s not easy being a maker,” Marescalco said.
   Eighth-grade students Delaney Denny and Sarah Kimble hoped it wasn’t their last year at the Maker Faire. This year, they presented treats based on fandoms, like Butterbeer cupcakes (Harry Potter), pretzel stick light sabers (Star Wars) and severed head cake pops (Game of Thrones).
  “Delanney and I read a lot, and last year we did a Harry Potter thing, but this year we wanted to do more than that,” Kimble said. “I want to come back next year. I love meeting people and seeing them eat my food.”

Local students wins science medals
   Martins Creek and Ranger middle school students dominated the region’s Science Olympiad tournament on March 10 at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. Martins Creek’s team won first place overall, while Ranger’s took second place.
   “I have enjoyed being the team’s coach, and have been impressed with their level of enthusiasm and commitment to their events,” Martins Creek coach Chad Brooks said. “These students have shown a high level of creativity and have opened their minds to learning. They have bright futures ahead of them.”
   In the Science Olympiad, there are 23 events in which students may compete. Students practice their chosen events in school, after school and sometimes even on the weekends to prepare for the competition.
   At the all-day competition, the students – many in teams of two per event – were judged on projects and performance. Students with scores that place in the top three for the region earned medals. Scores on all events are added to determine the region’s overall winner.
   Out of the 23 events, Cherokee County teams placed first in 15. In each event, at least one student from Cherokee County earned a medal. Martins Creek won overall with 17 points.
   Martins Creek had 17 students compete:
   * Caroline Carringer and Hannah Cowart won second place in both Ecology and Write, Do It.
   * Will Crayton won first place in Battery Buggy, Fast Facts, Optics and Towers.
   * Dylan Curran won first place in Meteorology, Ping Pong Parachute and Rocks and Minerals.
   * Emmanuel Eagle won first place in Optics.
   * Alexus Pittner won first place in Herpetology and third in Hovercraft.
   * Connor Savugot won first place in Fast Facts, Roller Coaster and Wright Stuff.
   * Andrew Schultz won first place in Roller Coaster.
   * Christian Tighe won first place in Battery Buggy, Ping Pong Parachute and Towers.
   * Camron Turner won first place in Meteorology, Microbe Mission and Rocks & Minerals, plus second place in Potions & Poisons.
   * Isaiah Davis won second place in Potions & Poisons.
   * Alyia McGaha won first place in Herpetology.
   * Sadie Curran won first place in Microbe Mission.
   * Chris Jenkins and Kain Jenkins won second place in Anatomy andPhysiology.
   * Alexis Tighe won first place in Dynamic Planet and Solar System.
   * Liberty Worden won first place in Dynamic Planet, Solar System and Wright Stuff.
   Ranger had 15 students compete:
   * Lauren Brooks won third place in Duct Tape Challenge.
   * Aidan Orlandi won second place in Crimebusters and Fast Facts, plus third place in Solar System.
   * Hunter Osborne won first place in Road Scholars, second place in Hovercraft and third place in Optics.
   * Payton Palmer won third place in Optics.
   * Kristian Romesberg won third place in Duct Tape Challenge and Ecology.
   * Savannah Deren won second place in Roller Coaster, Towers and Rocks & Minerals.
   * Emily Dillard second place in Roller Coaster.
   * Sarah Ledford won second place in Dynamic Planet and Towers.
   * Candace Leovao won first place in Disease Detectives, plus third place in Thermodynamics.
   * Charli McDaniels won second place in Crimebusters, plus third place in Battery Buggy and Solar System.
   * Emily Parker won second place in Rocks & Minerals, plus third place in Ecology, Microbe Mission and Thermodynamics.
   * Kara Penland won second place in Fast Facts and third place in Herpetology.
   * Mckenna Spencer won third place in Battery Buggy.
   * Arianna Thomas won second place in Hovercraft and third place in Microbe Mission.
   * Emily Tomczak won first place in Disease Detectives, second place in Dynamic Planet and third place in Herpetology.
   Ranger also had the only junior varsity team at the competition. Students on the JV team were Tyler Miller, Carson Taylor, Isabella Jenson, Allayah Gartland, Brittany Morrow, Adara Collier, Chloe Lynn Little and Ryan Morrow. The coaches for Ranger’s teams were Sherry Brookins and Gabrielle Gagnon.
   The region includes the five westernmost counties in North Carolina, but other nearby schools may register to compete as long as the tournament has not reached capacity.
   The state competition will be held Friday and Saturday, April 20-21, at N.C. State University in Raleigh.
   Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.