Berks Students Use Engineering Skills to Fight Hunger

Fifteen teams from elementary through high school competed this weekend in the 3rd annual Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading Canstructure event, a structure building competition to fight hunger in Berks County.

This year’s theme, Inspire Kindness, gave students the opportunity to learn about engineering through team building. Mentored by Penn State Berks engineering students, canstructure participates assembled their structures at the Berkshire Mall Saturday morning in Wyomissing. Each structure was entirely made from cans of food collected during youth food drives.

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The structures will be remain on display at the mall until March 13, when they will be taken down and all canned food donated to the Helping Harvest Food Bank.

“We are proud to partner with Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading” said Karen Linder, Performance Toyota Charitable Giving Coordinator. “It’s a win-win community service project that fosters important skills in our youth and helps to fight hunger at the same time.”

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Students from Green Valley Elementary built a gigantic bee out of 300 cans. The structure, located near the mall’s customer service desk, stands 8 feet tall.

“It took about 8 weeks to collect the cans and find information about food scarcity for our presentation” said 5th grader Athena.

“Each flower describes each one of us” said 6th grader Micah. “We put ourselves on the wings like bee’s carry pollen, just like we can spread kindness to each person.”

Following the massive building process, a group of judges walked around to listen to the students presentations. “All the teams did a great job” said canstructure judge, David Patti.

“Not only did I look for what the teams built, but more importantly, what they learned along the way, and what they learned about creativity and working in a group. Some of it is the wow factor, the other side is to why they built it, how it works, and what went into each build.”

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Competing in the high school division, Wyomissing Junior Senior High School won first place. With a difference of only one point, the “Hunger Fighters” of Wilson West Middle School won first place in the middle school division. In the elementary school division, Penn Bernville Elementary School took home first place.

This year’s event also had two special award categories, an award for the group that raised the most money through the events “text to donate” fundraiser, and the fan favorite award. Both awards were won by the “Buttersnaps” group from Wyomissing School District.

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