Scout creates science courtyard at Fairland East

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, October 28, 2009

ROME TOWNSHIP — Like anything to do with nature, the Scout project of Hunter Schenewark started in the spring. That’s when Hunter, a student at Fairland Middle School, decided he would turn one of the green spaces at Fairland East into a science courtyard.

“I want them to be able to learn and have hands-on experience,” he said Saturday morning.

That’s when Hunter, his parents, Amy and Jarrod, his five brothers, members of his Scout Troop 78 and members of his church, turned out to make Hunter’s dream a reality. With that Hunter hopes to be elevated to the rank of Eagle Scout.

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There in the courtyard were workers dumping bags and bags of sand into a sandbox for the fossil and mineral pit. Across the way Hunter was busy mixing up concrete and pouring it into a long trench.

Next he would take a variety of molds of animal tracks and squish them into the concrete. There were tracks for bear, raccoon, chipmunk, skunk, among others, which would be labeled.

That would give the elementary students a chance to learn to distinguish them.

In the middle of the courtyard Amy Schenewark was setting up a weather station with a thermometer, rain gauge and weather vane so the children could learn more about their own climate.

“I find (hands-on) more enjoyable than reading it in a book,” Hunter said.

There were also three small flowerbeds set up so the Fairland East students could do their own plantings to learn more about how things grow.

And Hunter’s older brother, Tanner, 17, and younger brother, Sawyer, 6, were sanding away at two picnic tables already at the school before they started to restore them as a place for students to hold outdoor classes.

Hunter was inspired by Tanner, who created a similar courtyard, when the family lived in Texas.

But coming up with the different science stations and the funding was all on Hunter’s shoulders.

He first went to area businesses but found the economy was hindering his fund-raising efforts, his mother said.

Next he went to the Fairland PTO and the school board. Through that and with contributions from the teachers and staff at Fairland East, Hunter got $200 or half of what he needed.

Help for the rest of the project came from Lowe’s, Sowards Bail Bonds and an anonymous donor.

Amy Schenewark calls the project a good learning experience for her son on many levels.

“I think it will make him more giving,” she said. “He knows how hard it was to get support.”