Students at North Arvada Middle School held a farmers market on July 30, hawking artisanal goods they made as part of the school’s summer school curriculum. Student-made candles, soaps, bath scrubs …
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Students at North Arvada Middle School held a farmers market on July 30, hawking artisanal goods they made as part of the school’s summer school curriculum. Student-made candles, soaps, bath scrubs and other products were available to patrons at North Arvada’s Piece Street campus from 9-11 a.m. for the optional cost of a donation benefiting the school.
The farmers market was the culmination of North Arvada’s project-based summer school curriculum, which saw the school’s 30 summer school students break up into small groups and create goods typically found at farmers markets.
Matt Chisholm, an eighth grade social studies teacher at North Arvada who worked with the students on the project, said that after a year of distanced and hybrid learning, his students were eager to participate in a hands-on project.
“Watching kids engage in learning again, you can tell how starved of it they were,” said Chisholm. “Just based on all the protocols and everything and staying away from people. And it also shows the power of projects; giving students the latitude to do what they want, and when they have that ownership just the amazing things that happen.”
Chisholm added that the students did their own research to decide which product to pursue, receiving assistance from teachers once a decision had been made on how to execute the production side of things.
“In the earliest days,” said Chisholm, “we were telling them, `just Google farmers markets, see what people are doing, just use your power as a middle school kid with Google to find something of interest to you.’ Kids randomly were like `I like to this, I’ve seen my grandma do this’ and just kind of came to their own conclusions and we just coached them through making the budget work for that, having the time to make it and the resources.”
Rising eighth grader Luke Chavez and his group made bars of soap after hearing about the process from Chavez’s sister. Chavez said that he and his groupmates had never done something like this before but would love to do it again.
“We made some soap made out of shea butter,” said Chavez. “What you do is heat it up until it’s a liquid. Then for every 3.5 ounces of the wax, you add 22 drops of essential oils. So, for one batch, we added 100 drops of the oil. Every bar of soap has 22 drops in it. We used ginger, lavender, cinnamon essential oils.
“Once we had the mixture of all the drops and the wax,” Chavez continued, “we add in food coloring and then we mix it together and add some dried flower pedals, get a mold and put it in the mold. We put it in the freezer for between 20 minutes to an hour. At first, I thought it was kind of iffy because we tried to add a little amount of wax that wasn’t enough, but then we added more, and we got soap.”
Rian Richards, a rising 7th grader, made spa sets with her group comprised of candles, body scrub and lip scrub. Like Chavez, Richards said it was her first endeavor in making spa products but was happy with the outcome.
“We found what we were going to make,” said Richards, “and then went to the faculty closet and had a couple ideas and started mixing it together. This is our first time doing this. I think it went really well. We’ve had a lot of sales. We had a few fails but we’re happy with how it came out. We were brainstorming ideas and we just came up with the idea for a spa set. It was really fun.”
While many students made beauty-related products, others branched into other fields like jewelry and technology. Rising eighth grader Anneka Gulis’s group made virtual reality headsets and set up a space at the farmers market where patrons could try out the technology.
“We wanted to do a thing for VR because headsets are really expensive,” said Gulis, “so we made our own thing out of Google Cardboard. We’re trying to give everyone an experience, from little kids to adults. Personally, I’ve always wanted to do a VR thing and honestly its really exciting to see people get so excited with this, mostly because they’re so expensive, why not make it on your own?”
Chisholm said that the donation money would go back to the students, either in the form of a similar project or a celebratory party. Chisholm also said that North Arvada faculty were considering hosting a winter farmers market as well, an idea many of the students were excited about.
“That money will go towards either another project in school, a party for them or both,” said Chisholm. “So, kind of trying to push that camaraderie they built in summer into the school year to give them more of a belonging feeling.”
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