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Making Crayons Is All Business For Fitzhugh Students

OSWEGO, NY – At first glance it appears students are just making crayons.

However, sixth graders at the Fitzhugh Park Elementary School have enjoyed participating in “Green Chemistry” which provides a variety of experiences.

Veteran teacher Carol Carroll has brought the program to life through assistance from Entergy.

Students were hard at work and focused on their project as “Green Chemistry” excited them. Jodi Larkin (left) of Entergy was on hand to view the experiences. She enjoyed watching the work of (from left to right) Jodi Larkin, Michaela Callen, Christan Cabanlig, Nate Sanaker, Ryan Gunther and Hayley Still.
Students were hard at work and focused on their project as “Green Chemistry” excited them. Jodi Larkin (left) of Entergy was on hand to view the experiences. She enjoyed watching the work of (from left to right) Jodi Larkin, Michaela Callen, Christan Cabanlig, Nate Sanaker, Ryan Gunther and Hayley Still.

She explained, “The ‘Green Chemistry’ curriculum, based on the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry, is designed to be a simulation of actual business methodology in which students are challenged to manufacture a crayon. It introduces students to the topic of Green Chemistry and provides a hands-on inquiry-based unit in which students can explore this approach to chemical manufacturing.”

Initially students work in teams to make crayons, but this project is much more than meets the eye.

Carroll explained, “Students are learning about sustainability and they are learning the business sense of what creating a crayon company would encompass. They have to make numerous wide ranging decisions.”

Each group of students becomes a company with a CEO, environmental and financial representatives. The groups chose materials. They compare product selection in using soy beans versus paraffin.

Carroll noted, “There are also additives that enhance crayons and they have to decide which are the best to use.”

Carroll explained, “When they are done they have to consider cost of the production as well as figure out how much waste that was entailed by their work.”

Even when the crayon production is complete there are other challenges facing the students.

The students base their business on the production of 10,000 crayons. Carroll noted, “The next step is that we go into marketing and they analyze labels of various products as well as commercials. They will eventually create a commercial which will be presented along with the packaging and final crayons at the completion of the project.”

Eventually the “most sustainable crayon” and the “most efficient and effective company” will be selected for the “Green Chemistry Award.”

Locally, Entergy has been a substantial sponsor of this program and its support has provided consumable materials such as colored wax, soy beans and other items necessary to complete this.

Jodi Larkin, administrative specialist for the Entergy Security Department, was on hand to view this year’s production of crayons.

She noted, “This is a wonderful project and I am here just overseeing what they are doing. It is very interesting to see what our students are doing these days especially in such creative projects as this one.”

This year through the donation it has also been possible to purchase flip cameras to make and create the commercials.

Carroll discovered this program in 2003 as she commenced working with the Keystone Center in Colorado.

She had been working with the group since that time and her students continue to benefit from her decision to be involved with Keystone.

The work that the Fitzhugh Park students are doing is shared with parents.

Carroll explained, “When they are finished I will burn a DVD and send it home so parents can see exactly what is going on the our classroom. It helps make parents part of this important process.”

Excitement in learning was quite evident among the students at Fitzhugh Park.

The teamwork, cooperation and communication, so important in life, were present in the classroom as they all worked toward a common end.