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Students attending this year's summer science camp spent five weeks creating displays of North County's two best known structures.

North Adams Students Create Engineering Dioramas

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Tim Alves, right, answers questions about the Mount Greylock War Memorial on Monday. The diorama tower was made of PVC with a solar light for the beacon.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — They were engineering marvels in their time — and still are on a smaller scale.

Well, a somewhat smaller scale.

Students at Brayton Elementary School have "imagineered" the Hoosac Tunnel and the War Memorial atop Mount Greylock in paper machie, chicken wire, wooden dowels and assorted materials on 4-by-8 sheets of plywood.

"When I saw the pictures I didn't realize they're almost as big as the real thing," joked Mayor Richard Alcombright on being presented with the dioramas on Monday. 

Science teacher James Holmes said the hope had been to present them to the governor and have them exhibited at the State House but the scheduling didn't work out. So instead, they will be displayed at City Hall — with a strong hint that the mayor show them to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

"Once they spend time at City Hall in North Adams, maybe they could spend time in City Hall in Boston for citizens of Boston to see what we offer out here," Holmes said. "Both of these things — the tower on Mount Greylock and the Hoosac Tunnel are engineering feats that evolved here in Berkshire County."

The dioramas were created over five weeks of the public schools' Science Summer Camp by two groups of students entering Grades 6 and 7 this fall. The children researched the topography and history of the projects, visited Mount Greylock and got a brief view of the tunnel's Central Shaft air exchangers from the bus, and spent time at the visitors' center museum in Western Gateway Heritage State Park.

On Monday, they were prepared to answer questions and readily offered stories and facts about the two engineering marvels, including the 1,000-foot depth of the Central Shaft and its function, and the height and configuration of the tower.

Above, the Hoosac Tunnel display included the two entrances and the Central Shaft (the brown item on top). Right, the entrance to Brayton School celebrates the summer science camp activities.
Waiting nearby was a group of kindergartners ready to discuss the timeline of technology and invention they'd put together.

The science camp is in its third year. Hosted at Brayton School, more than 300 children participate in the daylong, six-week program. The "Imagineering" camp was formulated by the Boston Museum of Science; this year, a "MindUP" program on personal actions and communication was also instituted.

Different grades participated in a range of activities and made field trips that also included Berkshire Wind project, Kidspace, the library and Natural Bridge. The program culminates with a trip to the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford.

The science camp has made an effort to inspire girls, including a "We Can Do It" posterboard with Rosie the Riveter.

"I want to do art ... I liked the engineering," said Amy Jennings, who thought the project was fun. Her classmate on the Mount Greylock project, Shaley Dowdell, agreed. "I like art, and I like engineering, I like creating stuff."

Alcombright credited Superintendent James Montepare, staff and teachers for working to make the summer science camp a success and providing the program to so many children.

"It just seems to get bigger, better and brighter," he said. "You walk through the door and it's like your walking into the Science Museum in Boston.  ... It's amazing what you've all done."

Residents will be able to see the dioramas at City Hall but the mayor promised he'd see about getting them to Boston.

"We just want eastern Mass to know what's out there," said Holmes.

Students participating in the Imagineering Science Camp included:

Mount Greylock: Tim Alves, Nick Britton, Leigha Demarsico, Anna Dix, Kaitlin Dobbert, Dakota Hurley, Ashley Macksey, Jasmine Pizarro-Gomez and T.J. Vareschi

Hoosac Tunnel: Aaron Baker, Hali Cartmill, Laura Corsi, Shaley Dowdell, Justin Hemenway, Amy Jennings, Connor Kelly, Adam Licht and Jordan Todd

Tags: Brayton School,   dioramas,   engineering,   science,   summer camp,   

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