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At Makerfest in Bettendorf, kids show off creations

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Tylen Tarbey, of Bettendorf, pointed out the planets in the solar system.

Bettendorf Community School District Elementary MakerFest.

Tylen Tarbey, a first-grader at Grant Wood Elementary, tells about the various planets in the Solar System display he has at the Bettendorf Community School District Elementary MakerFest, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at Bettendorf Middle School.

“I knew the sizes before I came here,” he said, explaining his project that showed the planets in relation to their size and proximity to the sun. “I watch shows about it.”

“He loves to read about the solar system,” said his father, Abraham Tarbey. His mother, Caroline Tarbey, says her son wants to be an astronaut.

Tylen, 6, was among the youngest exhibitors Thursday at the Elem Makerfest in Bettendorf Middle School gym, 2030 Middle Road.

Long before the event began in earnest, parents and more than 150 students – up through fifth grade - packed the parking lot and the school.

Bettendorf Community School District elementary librarians hosted the event that encouraged creativity and innovation. Students brought their projects, which ran the gamut from live guinea pigs to models of volcanoes, to share with the community.

Librarians have been integrating “makerspace” — a collaborative area for students to make, learn, explore and share — into libraries in the past five years, said Sarah Honn, Paul Norton librarian. “We are educating the whole child. We do everything we can to get those creativity vibes going.”

Teachers encourage children to think critically and assure them it’s OK if  they don't succeed the first time.

At Paul Norton, she said, more girls than boys signed up for the event.

Ariel Ritter, 9, fourth-grader at Grant Wood, was the only student in her class who presented Mountain Dew-flavored, green-colored popcorn.

Bettendorf Community School District Elementary MakerFest.

Ariel Ritter, a fourth-grader at Grant Wood, passes out green-colored popcorn at the Bettendorf Community School District Elementary MakerFest, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at Bettendorf Middle School.

“I was thinking of pop my mom never lets me have,” she said. “Something that might taste good.”

“I tasted it,” said her dad, Neal Ritter. “I thought it was pretty good – a little like candy corn.”

Another colorful display was created by Hayden Koehler, third grader at Paul Norton, who constructed a replica of a stratovolcano, complete with a diagram of its inner workings on the back side and a dinosaur in the diorama.

Bettendorf Community School District Elementary MakerFest.

Hayden Koehler, a third-grader at Paul Norton Elementary, talks about her model of a volcano at the Bettendorf Community School District Elementary MakerFest, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at Bettendorf Middle School.

“The lava will pour down and the plants will die,” she explained, adding hopefully “The dinosaur might make it.”

“It gets kids away from their devices (like cell phones,)” said her dad, Ken Koehler. “She spent less time at her station and was everywhere else. There’s a lot of neat stuff kids come up with.”

Not far from the volcano was a replica of the Titanic, where Ashten Truitt, 8, of Davenport, a second-grader at Grant Wood, enjoyed discussing the famous doomed ship, which was docked next to a glass “iceberg.”

Bettendorf Community School District Elementary MakerFest.

Ashten Truitt, a second-grader at Grant Wood, with his display on "Building the Titanic" at the Bettendorf Community School District Elementary MakerFest, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at Bettendorf Middle School.

The ship weighs 15 pounds. “It’s built from 22 sheets of plywood,” he said.

“It was a lot of sanding,” said his dad, Andrew Truitt.

This was the fourth year for the Makerfest, said Erin Waldron-Smith, elementary librarian.

“Part of Makerspace is choices – we don’t make this an assignment,” she said. “They’re really creating from their imaginations, stepping outside their comfort zones.”

The Makerspace concept involves learning by doing, she said. “If you mess up, you can do it again.”

For more information about the Maker concept in education, go to http://www.makereducation.com/

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Film critic/reporter since 1985 at Quad-City Times. Society of Professional Journalists, Broadcast Film Critics Association and Alliance of Women Film Journalists member. Member of St. Mark Lutheran Church.

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