WEST FORSYTH -- A massive replica of the Greek Trojan horse sat in an elementary school in Forsyth County, not as a secretive attack tactic but as an educational method to encourage recycling. In the end, it was worth $1,000.
Kelly Mill Elementary School’s gifted first- through third-graders won the prize money for creativity in the Fall 2014 Made By Milk Carton Construction Contest.
Evergreen Packaging, a beverage paperboard carton manufacturing company whose products are widely used in Forsyth’s cafeterias, held the contest to raise awareness about the benefits of paper cartons and recycling.
Students in each of the 109 participating teams throughout the country collected used milk and juice cartons and built creations based on a sculpture theme for cash prizes up to $5,000, said Katie Simmons, marketing manager for Evergreen.
“We have the goals in mind to encourage students to consume healthy beverages and also the positive messages of the eco-friendly benefits of carton packages,” Simmons said. “And, of course, there’s the natural messages regarding recycling and repurposing materials.”
Judging criteria for the contest’s fifth semester covered compliance with the rules, whether the project supported the theme and how many supporting natural and renewable materials were used, Simmons said.
Creativity, originality, decoration, attention to detail and whether an accompanying essay noted that a green initiative would be supported through prize money were also examined.
“[Kelly Mill’s project] stood out in some of those areas,” she said. “It’s really a monstrosity.”
Their project, titled “Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts,” used 3,104 cartons and led them to be one of 14 winning schools nationwide. After building a massive Trojan horse, they even made warriors out of recycled products.
Leigh Hummel and three other gifted teachers at Kelly Mill started carrying out lesson plans at the beginning of the year. She said they infused the actual construction with Common Core standards, including math, science, history and writing and ELA.
They learned the history of the Trojan War while applying STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — principles to the design and creation of the project.
“The build took three weeks, but the pre-teaching took longer, and we did some follow-up activities,” said Hummel of the some 85 kids who were involved.
Students were taught about recycling and green initiatives, which “was what drew us to the contest to begin with.”
“They actively gathered these cartons and rinsed them out and really worked as a part of that to engage the children in the lunchroom to make sure they’re recycling,” Hummel said.
She said the school will use the prize money for future green projects.
“It’s teaching them how to apply real-world skills,” she said, “and the application of problem solving is one of the most valuable tools that ends up arising from STEM projects like these.”