CAMDEN — Forget the Indy 500 and the Nascar 600, the students of Camden-Rockport Middle School's eighth-grade class kicked off the Memorial Day weekend with a race of their own. And they raced sculptures they built in Kristen Anderson's art class made from recycled materials. It takes me back to the days of Calvin and Hobbes racing down a hill with wild abandonment. Oh, did I forget to tell you, they had to race uphill and not down?
Twenty-three unique teams challenged Knowlton Street in front of the school as the student body watched from the sidelines cheering them on. Each team had three to five kids involved with the design, building and racing.
Youth Arts provided funding for the project. Anderson, the school’s art teacher, said it was decided to race uphill for safety reasons.
"Kids were given a base for their sculpture," she said. "It could have been a set of wheels that were part of a stroller, or lawnmower, or bicycle. Their team had the task to problem solve and come up with a design, come up with a plan and make a sculpture, all within about a week and a half."
Anderson said it was the creative process in its purest form.
"They learned it's not always fun and you don't always get your way," she said. "You have to compromise and everyday you just have to get back to it and come up with a sculpture. Today is the calmest. I was expecting chaos and frustration, but that's not the case. They were completely ready by yesterday afternoon."
Anderson said she wanted her students to do kinetic art, something that moved.
"Through Youth Arts, they paid for our visiting artist, Kim Bernard, to come and do this sculpture race," she said. "We were matched up with Kim and she just happened to be doing this CMCA Sculpture Race in August. We all thought it would be a great interdisciplinary project. The kids are learning math, they're implementing math skills, and they'll use them in science class and study motion and how to make things faster."
Kim Bernard is the Youth Arts artist in residence and said it was two weeks worth of fun, a little bit of chaos, but a lot of fun for everyone.
"The first day we introduced the project to them," she said. "We introduced what sculpture racing was all about and had them do some brain storming and then group brain storming, so they were all together with their friends. We gave them a set of wheels and they had to come up with what they could do for a theme."
Bernard said one of the criteria was they had to use 90 percent recycled materials.
"Only 10 percent could be new materials," she said. "The theme is recycling, upcycling. I hope all of them try to enter our big sculpture race in Rockland in August. At least as many that can. What's great about them doing this before the June first deadline for the August race is that the public can see that it doesn't have to be high tech, welded, built with wood — you can just take a weekend and put something together with poster board and paint and have some fun."
Bernard said the kids were fabulous to work with.
"They were high, high energy," she said. "Sometimes uncontrollable creative energy. Once they got past the brainstorming stage and decided what they were going to do, they all had responsibilities. One was a team leader, another was in charge of documentation, taking photographs, materials, everybody had a job to do, but once they knew their theme there was no holding them back."
#1 Team Puggle bike
• Ben Nautel, Achille Steinhoff, Spencer Tooley, Jacob Kurr and Tommy Eager
We have a dog, a pug dog, chasing a dog bone! Is he ever going to catch it???? Only time will tell....
#2 Team Ripe Lemons
• MaryKate Pons, Alexandra Southworth, Emerson Brott, Caden Sawyer and Ruby Cohen
The ripe lemons are O.P. on and off the track. Catch the wave!
#3 Team Sweet Life
• Kera Griffin, Alexia Cazemajou, Eden Zizza, Eryn Kaloustian
This candy themed sculpture is named after the popular TV show The Suite Life of Zach and Cody and is dedicated to the Sprouce twins.
#4 Team I-16
• Julian Blohm, Tor Denny, Avery Madore, Nate Stanley
Given a lawn mower base this team took the theme into their own hands by bringing in trashcans and building materials. They are trying to soar to victory!
#5 Team Black Widows
• Natasha Vallee, Mia Richmond, Tiana Gordon, Bristol Tolman
Getting a stroller as our wheels we decided to be out of this world and make a UFO. When that didn't go as planned we quickly changed to a spider. Look out! It moves quickly!
#6 Team Duck Chariot
• Milo Gaudette, Ruben Feldman, Will Bragdon, Ian Orsmond, Marley Burwell
To duck or not to duck... that is the question. We have created a Roman duck Chariot that will speed to the finish line with unparalleled grace. Our quackers: Ian, Ruben, Milo, William, and Marley are pro duck builders and role players. The Duck Chariot was originally meant to flap its wings, but that dream was given up in favor of speed in order to appease the Duck Gods.
#7 Team Happy Campers
• Julianna Day, Kat O'Brien, Kyla Taylor, Kate Knauer, Lillian Nelson
Who doesn't love a summer camping trip? We can't wait to get out of school so we brought summer to us early!
#8 Team Scurvy
• Arianna Hansen, Aidan Hebert, Anunthaya MacDonald, Autumn Sawyer
Inspired by our school mascot and the pearls of wisdom we receive at school. Sail on Schooners!
#9 Team Banana Split
• Caroline Contento, Freya Johanson, Lexi Heidorn, Tom Roberts
The base of a cart inspired this enormous and mouth watering ice cream sculpture. Their collaboration melted our hearts but, thankfully, not the ice cream!
#10 Team Under the Sea Monster
• Noah LaChance, Ryan O'Farrell, Cam Hedstrom
This office chair started out as a UFO but in the final hours turned into an anglerfish!
#11 Team Death Saucer
• Nolan Delehey, Sam Gallagher, Wilson Gray, Aaron Mahoney, Casey Messer
What once was going to be a party boat turned into a UFO and is ready to race in a ship equipped with special effects of mirrors and aliens. Our opponents will breathe in our dust!
#12 Team Hibachi
• Kaleb Prophet, Shauna Murray, Brook St Laurent, Kate Upham, Bella Gallace
Sushi anyone? This creative team was given a bike and added a pallet to pull for a dining experience complete with sushi rolls, dumplings and a jumbo shrimp.
#13 Team Revving Rocket Racer
• Jeremy Fraser, Will Gardner, Dylan Gordon
These boys traveled long and far to race here today. Jeremy Dangles traveled from the Indy 500 and Gill Wardner came all the way from the Daytona 500. They combined their race cars to create the fastest!
#14 Team Lo' Rider
• Matt Brown, Austin Ford, Oscar Horovitz, Tanner Robinson, Rhys White
Inspired by the 1975 song Low Rider by the American funk band- War. This low rider took a lot of team effort and is clearly the coolest
#15 Team Louis and the Single Ladies
• Anya Babb-Brott, Ava Baeza, Margaret Richmond
Louis is one lucky whale to be riding in style on a lawn mower deck with his single ladies. He is certainly having a whale of a good time!
#16 Team Lil' Birds
• Jason LeBlond, Angus Carter, Andrew Proscia, Sam Moody
Once we cut off the back of an office chair it gave us the speed to beat all competitors. We will soar like birds to victory!
#17 Team King's Chariot
• Thia Allen, Hannah Fiske, Kevin Tran, Gwen Matthews, Kyan Mohammadi
We wanted to stand out and worked vigorously to make it happen. Long live the king!
#18 Team Roy G BIV
• Victoria Winslow, Bri Hildings, Aubree Pearse, Shakira Cayouette
In the beginning we had no idea what to do but after we brainstormed we stuck with the rainbow theme. We did our best even when we struggled. There was a pot of gold at the end of our rainbow!
#19 Team Snack That Smiles Back
• Dylan Mackey, Aiden Schechter, Henry McGeady, Gabe Ruesswick
Inspired by the one and only snack that smiles back. Nothing cheesy about this sculpture!
#20 Team 'Murica
• Jack Eager, Aiden Aviles, Will Thorn, Lane Cortese
The movement of the pedals as you ride the big wheel gave us the idea of flag. From there the theme was born! God Bless 'Murica
#21 Team Salty Dog
• Landen Stearns, Bryler Fisher, Jonathan McDevitt, Deven Short
We are trying to sail away with the school spirit award. We started out with a small bike and are ready to row to victory!
#22 Team CRMS Discovery Coast Guard
• Josh Henning, Special guest...Sam Cyr
Safety first on this ship!
#23 Team Bacon
• Aiden Orestis
Who doesn't love bacon?