News & Press

Eighth-graders map town in 3-D


GREENFIELD — Wood pellets and science can make mountains in the hands of the Eighth Grade Academy.

Teaming up with energy company A.R. Sandri Inc., the eighthgrade students are building threedimensional topographical maps of hills in Greenfield. Using wood pellets and supplies donated by Sandri, the students picked one of four local features to replicate.

“It’s fun,” said student Gail Gates, as she was careful to avoid touching anything with her papiermache- covered hands. “It’s not fun when you get the plaster all over yourself though.”

By blowing up a topographical map, the students cut each level out of a sheet of cardboard and layered them to build the “skeleton” of the feature. The skeleton was then covered with papier mache and wood pellets and painted by the students. “They’re learning more about the local landscape and topography,” said science teacher Angela Ruggeri. “Hands-on projects bring science to life for the kids. They’re excited, and you can feel that.” Sandri provided an extra incentive to bring science to life for the students by offering three cash prizes for the teams to produce the best three-dimensional maps. The firstplace team will walk away with boasting rights and $100.

“We have been in this community for over 80 years,” said Sandri Marketing Operations Manager Kirsten Wedegartner. “We understand the importance of giving back to the community and we think people know that we try to do whatever we can.” The cash incentive was not lost on the students. Gates’ team had already decided they were going to split the money evenly if they won, at $33.33 per person. What to do with the extra penny was still up for grabs. “Competition is good,” said Ruggeri. “It’s definitely a huge motivator for them.”

Wedegartner said the idea for the project was initiated by Sandri President Tim Van Epps. While touring a commercial wood pellet boiler manufacturer, Epps saw art work done by local school children using the wood pellets, and he brought the idea back to Greenfield.

Sandri also brought a representative from New England Wood Pellets into the classroom to talk to the students about wood pellets as a source of alternative energy.

“It’s a win-win for us,” said Wedegartner. “We had the opportunity to raise awareness about this fuel and that we are a local supplier, and it lets the kids have some fun. We know budgets are strapped, and we wanted to let the schools know that we are here.”

The maps will be on display in the People’s United Bank on Federal Street and the Greenfield Public Library starting March 26. 

You can reach John Tilton at: or 413-772-0261 ext. 264


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