Class projects ships delicate glass ornaments without mishap

Sparks class

Participants in a seasonal class project included, from left in the first row, Brenden O’Kane, Philip Speering, Joseph Gibson, Miles Harper, Anna Trakul, Megan Sowards and Matthew O’Kane; from left in the second row, Penny Rosenberg, Ian Ladd, Raphael Jamias, Ethan Christian, Dylan Page, Dennis Velez, Erika Perkins and Ayo Adebiyi; from left in the third row, Piper Grokulsky, Alex Crews, Sam Spence, Ellie McGhee, Gabby Pence, Marisa Mata and Mrs. Jane Gillespie. Not pictured were Natalia Gomez and Matthew Willett. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Science, math and ingenuity were the tools students used to ship delicate glass Christmas ornaments to friends in a challenging assignment. Members of the Sparks classes for gifted students at St. Ann School in Bartlett were assigned to learn packing techniques, mail a glass Christmas ornament to a friend and have it arrive unbroken.

The teacher, Mrs. Jane Gillespie, supplied the round red and gold glass Christmas balls. Students in the Sparks classes for grades three through six brought their own boxes and an inventive array of packing materials, from the usual bubble wrap and tissue paper to a pink boa, a soft mitten, yarn, torn-up Styrofoam, pine needles, cotton balls and shredded paper. Boxes included types for Kleenex, shoes, and other box types.

They packed the ornaments and tested the boxes' durability. Testing included dropping the boxes from a height of 7 feet or more and pitching the box across the classroom. The math side of the project included using a gram scale for determining the mass and measuring the box to figure the volume of the package.

After drawing names within each class, the students  addressed the packages to each other at home and then mailed them. Each brought his or her received package to class before opening it. All the ornaments arrived unbroken. Students were allowed to keep the ornaments.