Sixth-grader Jefferson Hill had an epiphany late last year after a day of skiing at Tussey Mountain.
Despite wearing gloves, his hands were cold, and he wanted a way to keep them warm while traversing the hill.
That’s how he got the inspiration to create the Hot Hands heated ski pole for a project at Centre Learning Community Charter School.
The 12-year-old installed an electric hand warmer in the grip of a ski pole that averaged 113 degrees for up to six hours after being fully charged. There was also a built-in phone charger to the unit.
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Jefferson was one of 100 students who participated in the schoolwide project that turned the charter school into a museum Wednesday that showcased electricity, inventions, technology and the American Revolution.
School co-founder Mark Toci said the project — which started about five years ago — allowed students to tap into their creativity. It was also open to parents and community members Wednesday.
Toci said students were given different topics to research, by grade. They began brainstorming in January and worked through class almost every day to turn their project into reality.
The theme this year was “I Wonder.”
“The students asked, ‘I wonder how our country came to be?’ ” teacher Amanda Mason said. “They learned a variety of different subjects that put into perspective why we’re in the world we live in.”
Last year focused on a charitable theme that encouraged students to study charities and create their own, Mason said.
This year, her fifth-and-sixth-grade class focused on the American Revolution and formation of the government.
The 21 students each researched different historical figures and events, then dressed in character and gave a short lecture on the history of that person.
“They learned something that they could create their own personal opinions about and then tap into their character and see how that person would have responded,” Mason said.
Nyra Graham, 11, focused on Phillis Wheatley.
“I just found her so interesting because she was a slave who used her experience to write poetry,” she said.
Another fifth-and-sixth-grade class looked into the evolution of technology, while two seventh-and-eighth-grade classes focused on electricity and inventions. That allowed some students to deconstruct appliances, mount parts and explain the different forms of electricity.
Seventh-grader Alex Mullen gave a lesson on the history of holographic projections, while classmates Rylie Grube and partner Amber Hahn, both 12, researched and displayed cellphones that looked into some of the most popular mobile devices by year, and delved into the pros and cons of telecommunication.
Teacher Kelly Kennedy said he urged his students who developed their own inventions and to find a way to market their products.
“I really wanted them to make something that was realistic for someone to use, and ask themselves why it’s useful and who would use this?” he said.
When it wasn’t up to standard, Kennedy said, he provided feedback for his students to work through.
And teachers and students said the hard work was worth it.
“They love it,” teacher Amy Weaver said. “It’s a way to showcase all their talents and see their hard work pay off.”