Fireweed Structures Expo 2016

Students in fourth through sixth grades at Fireweed Academy showed off models of famous buildings at the Structures Expo on March 4. 

The students spent time in school and at home to create structures out of a variety of materials — cardboard, plastic foam, paint, hot glue and even Rice Krispies treats. The children chose buildings that were interesting to them. Fourth-grader Poppy Smith picked the Arc de Triomphe, which is located at the western end of the Champs-Élysées in Paris, to share the unfamiliar with her peers.

“I wanted a building that wasn’t super typical or well known, but still famous,” Poppy said. “I think it’s unique and has important history. A lot of people I know don’t know what it is, so I wanted them to learn about it.”

The project covered three of the district’s state standard writing components —research, informative and persuasive writing — as well as providing the opportunity for kids to learn about science, math and history in relation to their buildings, said Fireweed language arts and social studies teacher Hannah Snow. 

In addition to addressing many areas of curriculum, the project also provided the opportunity for the kids to practice self-reliance, one of Fireweed’s learning goals.

“I think all the kids just really impressed me because they had to do a lot of work at home, which means they had to be self-reliant,” Snow said. 

“I haven’t been here for the ones in the past, the last one was four years ago, but what I hear from other teachers … this is the biggest highlight they’ve seen as far as kids being prepared and invested and the amount of time they’ve spent on their structure and their research.”

In addition to French architecture, the Structures Expo had a mixture of ancient and modern buildings from around the world. Modern American architecture struck the interest of fourth-grader Elena Badajos who created San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, sixth-grader Audrey Chandler made the St. Louis Arch, and sixth-grader Alexis Schneider made the Longaberger Basket building of Newark, Ohio. Tapping into the Russian influence in Alaska, some students created buildings from the Kremlin Red Square in Moscow, such as Frida Renner’s model of the colorful St. Basil’s Cathedral.

“I think it’s great. I like architecture a lot. I actually studied it in undergraduate, so to get to share that with the kids and them get to experience it and share that with everybody else has been a really good experience,” said Fireweed language arts and special education teacher David Lefton.

Anna Frost can be reached at