Yes they can: STEM students stack cans to compete, learn, donate

Bartlett High STEM students practice for "Canstruction"
Bartlett High’s STEM students have been practicing assembling their canned food structure for this weekend’s “Canstruction” competition at University of Memphis.
Photo by Carolyn Bahm

Bartlett High School students are building a better world, almost literally, during their practice sessions for an upcoming charitable event.

These teens in the school’s inclusive Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Project are competing in the “Canstruction” competition this weekend at University of Memphis’s College of Engineering, sculpting with canned goods that will be donated to a local food bank.

Their design is a globe of about 600 tuna cans, supported on a hexagonal base of about 700 other cans arranged to represent social media icons. Classmates also lent their support: Their building blocks were donated during school canned food drives.

Their project’s theme is “#EndWorldHunger.”

Shannon Abraham, STEM coordinator and assistant principal (back row, on right) explained how the project covered STEM topics: With help from three volunteers (an MLGW engineer, an engineering student at UM, and an engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers), they budgeted for the project, used math to determine the globe’s radius, used engineering tools to cut supporting particle boards efficiently, and protractors to ensure perfect angles for the hexagonal base.

The teens were led by Abraham, along with advisor and coordinator Sharon Taube, a math teacher, and Johnnie Belote, a science teacher.

Taube said the youths came in three days during spring break to work on their design. “This is a wonderful group of kids.”

Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or