Elementary project wins national contest

(Sarah Pridgeon photo) Sundance Sixth-grade students have some fun with the sticky notes that helped them earn national recognition and a tidy prize for the school.

(Sarah Pridgeon photo)
Sundance Sixth-grade students have some fun with the sticky notes that helped them earn national recognition and a tidy prize for the school.

By Sarah Pridgeon
The sixth grade students of Sundance Elementary School are the proud winners of a national contest sponsored by 3M, the makers of Post-It Notes. The contest rewards creative use of sticky notes in a lesson plan and was won by a combined fifth and sixth grade project in which, over the course of two months, the students covered a wall in Post-Its to shape an image with an outer space theme.
“We created a huge wall mural of Saturn out of Post-Its,” says teacher Heather Dryden, who initiated the project last year with the help of her fellow sixth grade teacher, Abbie Love. It was intended to be a creative, enriching activity for kids who were not involved with band.
“I took a picture of Saturn and digitalized it to blow up the pixels and the kids had to map out where the Post-Its were going to go,” she elaborates. “It was pretty intense coordinate mapping – it took them about two months to get it up. I think they learned a lot.”
To complete the image of Saturn, the students had to work out where on the wall each individual Post-It should be placed and then color those sticky notes that weren’t quite the correct shade. Most of the work was done by those students who were not absent for band activities, though the band members did participate when they were able.
None of the participants were aware that such a contest existed as they painstakingly added their sticky notes to the wall – that realization came just as Dryden was considering taking the mural down.
“We got done in about April and left it up for the rest of the school year. On the last day of school I told them to go out there and pull it down, and they had a heyday,” she laughs.
“It was like a Post-It war out there, it took about four minutes. I think they had even more fun tearing it down than they did putting it up.”
Fortunately, a week before torn Post-Its filled the air, Dryden discovered the 3M Post-It Inspiring Ideas Contest. She submitted her lesson plans and images of the finished planet and was notified this week that the project was one of four national winners of the grand prize.
“We won $5000 that we can either spend on Scholastic or Post-It products for the classroom. I figured I would sit down with Abbie and see what we need,” she says, noting with amusement that the students are equally excited to spend their winnings.
“The students have already asked for some things – they asked if they could make a list, it was like Christmas in here. I’m going to see if I can get something that they can all take, so they can remember it.”
Dryden plans to enter the contest again this year, though now she is aware of its existence she would like to involve the band members more. She has yet to decide, however, what this year’s project topic might be.