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United students join virtual ‘Great Race’

April 25, 2013
By KEVIN HOWELL , Salem News

HANOVERTON- Students at United Local have been working all year to bring the next World's Fair to the area- virtually that is.

Students in Kelly Mellinger's fifth-grade math and science class are participating in the Great Race, a national project coordinated locally by the Columbiana County Educational Service Center. The 24 students, dubbed Mellinger's Minions, had to research 12 historical locations across the nation, develop a travel itinerary excluding an airplane and construct a three-dimensional invention incorporating their chosen location- the White House Fruit Farm in Canfield. Over 40 classes at the fourth- and fifth-grade level across the nation are participating, and the one with the best proposal- including the model of its invention plus the quickest and cheapest route to visit all 12 locations starting in New York City and ending in Seattle- will win a pizza party and certificates, as well as have their location named the virtual location of the next World's Fair.

According to Mellinger, this is the first year that United has participated in the project which incorporates aspects of all curriculum.

"[The project] includes all subjects," she explained. "The students need to know how to read and write for math and science. Everything is integrated, and this is a real world experience for them to see that."

Mellinger said the students started the project in November and will continue through the end of May when the winner is announced. She said students split into groups such as research, survey, accounting, proposal writing or marketing and studied each location in depth, including the time period of each. Then they developed the travel proposal and are creating their invention- a White House blueberry donut transporter.

"They have to know the cost of travel, boarding, food; they need to know what the weather will be like while traveling and how it will affect their costs and traveling time," Mellinger said.

In addition to skills needed as they enter junior high, including time management, team cooperation and organization, the students can take away an appreciation for hard work and an interest in multiple areas of education, according to Mellinger.

"It's a huge project, but it's nice to pull all skill sets in and for them to see that you have to use everything, it all ties together, she said. "Hopefully it will spike interest in a lot of different things."

After surveying adults at the school, the students chose White House over Guilford Lake, Spread Eagle Tavern and a gas site due to the popularity of the market's blueberry donuts, which were featured at the Super Bowl earlier this year. They developed the transporter since the donuts, which lack preservatives, cannot be shipped, allowing the donuts to be enjoyed anywhere at any time. Debbie Pifer from White House visited the class and explained the history of the business.

Kevin Howell can be reached at



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