• Nile McCool counted up to 22 reflections in his hand-built infinity mirror for the 2019 Maker Faire at The Learning Center charter school in Murphy. Photo by Ben Katz
    Nile McCool counted up to 22 reflections in his hand-built infinity mirror for the 2019 Maker Faire at The Learning Center charter school in Murphy. Photo by Ben Katz

SCOUTING AROUND: School Maker Faire showcases local tinkers

    Murphy – Whether they create slime, quilts, cupcakes or music, makers of all kinds filled The Learning Center charter school’s campus Thursday for its fourth School Maker Faire. The event showcases projects students created, as well as bringing in people and businesses from the community to present what they make.
    While they had their usual total amount of makers at about 80, more than 60 percent were students, which is more than previous years, event coordinator Julie Johnson said.
    “This year the kids stepped up in a major way,” Johnson said.
    School Director Mary Jo Dyre said the goal all along was to inspire students to make things – and she’s happy to see it’s working.
    “You just have to get so excited when you see these young tinkers,” Dyre said.
    Representatives from one of the more popular community makers this year, Snap-on Tools, saw how talented those young tinkers were as they hosted games like stacking marshmallows on a tongue depressor.
    “This is an amazing opportunity for us to come out in the community and meet our future,” said Greg Nazerian, human resources manager for Snap-on. “We’ve seen a lot of future engineers.”
    Johnson was thrilled to have Snap-On there to play games and show the students laser engraver, as well as the Muddy Sneakers program that works with fifth-grade students teaching about birds’ beaks, Sherry Goodlet from the Cherokee County Soil & Water Conservation District helping children make soil buddies, while the Junior Appalachian Musicians providing musical entertainment.
    Many student makers presents projects that showed their interests, like video games and slime. Fourth-grade student Silas Puleo, for example, would like to be an actor/director when he grows up, so he made three short movies that people could watch at the Maker Faire.
    Other students showed interests in what they’ve learned. Nile McCool, a sixth-grade student, made an infinity mirror with two mirrors reflecting off each other, lights and Lego bricks.
    “I get to see my work has paid off, and I’m amazing people with the science behind it,” McCool said.
    Some people left the faire with a new creature. Eighth-grader Freya Burgess, also known as Elswyth, used her artistic talents to create hand-drawn fantasy creatures for people to adopt, while Eli Hill, a second-grade student, made terrariums that could include a snail, earthworm or ladybug.
    Rowan Wright, a second-grade student, thought being able to bring home her new “pet” – a snail she named Gary – was the best part of the faire.
    “I like having pets, and I thought he was cute,” Wright said. “He likes to climb.”
    This year’s event not only saw more students participating, but more student bakers. Because of the spaghetti dinner fundraiser being held during the faire to raise funds for the upper grades trip, Johnson didn’t solicit bakers and cooks, but instead got several kids who wanted to share their culinary creations.
    One student, Jones Ference, was inspired by the television competition The Great British Bake Off. The first-grade student made chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and bunny cookies, then decorated her table with her artwork.
    Beside her, Noah Spradling, a third-grade student, brought his mother, Julia Fiero, to the faire to make palacsinta, traditional Hungarian hazelnut spread or strawberry jam-filled crepes commonly eaten for lunch or dinner. Spradling did research about the treats and presented what he learned as his mother cooked.
    “I thought it would be fun to spread European food to America and the school,” Spradling said.
    Dyre said she’d like to see more high school students, like Erin Manuel, participate in the future. Manuel, who attended the charter school and now is a student at Tri-County Early College High School in Peachtree, presented the solar charger she built and was selling art to raise funds for her next humanitarian trip to Haiti.
    “We have a lot of amazing projects (at the Early College), and I know there are several good for here,” Manuel said.
    Dyre said while many of the kids’ projects were crafts or toys, the skills they learned while doing the projects could help them with more advanced projects in the future.
    “You just never know,” she said.

    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.

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