Giving students the tools for realizing their potential, potential energy, that is. On March 3, 6th grade science students at Dickinson Middle School assembled their projects and teams for the second annual Toy Expo.

Giving students the opportunity to apply what they have learned in class, according to Teacher Damian Sobolik, is what the expo is all about.

“The kids have been studying energy for the last month, month and a half...we wanna put some value to the vocabulary that we’ve been learning and so, we’ve done this project instead of a test,” Solbolik said.

Sobolik said students could not use batteries or any sort of electricity to power their toys, instead, they had two weeks to convert the potential energy of their creation into kinetic energy, meaning, they had to find a way to get their toys moving.

Giving students the tools for realizing their potential, potential energy, that is. On March 3, 6th grade science students at Dickinson Middle School assembled their projects and teams for the second annual Toy Expo. (M.C. Amick/ The Dickinson Press)
Giving students the tools for realizing their potential, potential energy, that is. On March 3, 6th grade science students at Dickinson Middle School assembled their projects and teams for the second annual Toy Expo. (M.C. Amick/ The Dickinson Press)

In that time frame, Sobolik’s students were able to create a diverse array of toys, such as a slingshot car, called a “Time Flyer,” balloon darts, a wham-bam balloon launcher and a mini finger golf course, using a marble instead of a ball.

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Sixth grader Leyton Weigel said the team had been working on the project for around two weeks. However, Weigel deferred to Macy Eckelberg who he named to be the team leader.

Fellow sixth grader Eckelberg, along with her team, created a marble mini golf course.

Eckelberg said the team created the project in a week and a half of the two week time frame. She described the project as follows:

“It’s a mini golf course...you use your finger as the clubs and you hit it into the circle right there...you use the lines as a guide,” Eckelberg said.

Wiegel said the team each built separate parts and then combined them all together creating the course.

Giving students the tools for realizing their potential, potential energy, that is. On March 3, 6th grade science students at Dickinson Middle School assembled their projects and teams for the second annual Toy Expo. (M.C. Amick/ The Dickinson Press)
Giving students the tools for realizing their potential, potential energy, that is. On March 3, 6th grade science students at Dickinson Middle School assembled their projects and teams for the second annual Toy Expo. (M.C. Amick/ The Dickinson Press)

Like students’ potential, the expo was not confined to Sobolik’s classroom. Allison Grosz, a 6th grade teacher, hosted the expo with her students as well.

In Grosz’s classroom, students created fully-functioning slingshots, a roller coaster for balls instead of people, a homemade car with a ramp, sling darts, a hockey game with an arena made from a cardboard box, goals from plastic straws, a scoreboard made from a disposable bowl, popsicle sticks shaped like a hockey stick and what appeared to be little ball for a puck. The students named their creation, “Hockey Shot.”

Giving students the tools for realizing their potential, potential energy, that is. On March 3, 6th grade science students at Dickinson Middle School assembled their projects and teams for the second annual Toy Expo. (M.C. Amick/ The Dickinson Press)
Giving students the tools for realizing their potential, potential energy, that is. On March 3, 6th grade science students at Dickinson Middle School assembled their projects and teams for the second annual Toy Expo. (M.C. Amick/ The Dickinson Press)

Grosz’s classroom also featured a unique creation called “Water Soccer.” Like Hockey Shot, Water Soccer involves a makeshift arena made from plastic

This project brought out the inner scientist or engineer in some students, one being Eckelberg who now says she plans to be in a STEM field.

While many students found their love for science, technology, engineering and math, others found they have a knack for the business and advertising side of things. Each team, Sobolik said, had to create their own advertisements, commercials and so on to sell their products, and each visitor in Sobolik’s classroom were given a pretend $100 bill to cast their “votes” or “buy” the product. Five bonus points will be awarded to the team with the most money.

Giving students the tools for realizing their potential, potential energy, that is. On March 3, 6th grade science students at Dickinson Middle School assembled their projects and teams for the second annual Toy Expo. (M.C. Amick/ The Dickinson Press)
Giving students the tools for realizing their potential, potential energy, that is. On March 3, 6th grade science students at Dickinson Middle School assembled their projects and teams for the second annual Toy Expo. (M.C. Amick/ The Dickinson Press)

“We have an 80/20 system, 20 percent for daily work, 80 percent for projects and tests, it has a little more value, there was (an) urgency...it’s a life skill, we’re learning life skills” Sobolik said.