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In this summer’s tin can challenge, about 25 4-Hers and about 13 Clover-Kids put their creativity to the test.
They used cans to construct a variety of projects, including tea light holders, a drum set, cutlery holders, an iPod dock and more.
This is the second year the project challenge has been done, according to 4-H youth development coordinator, Tessa Hain.
“Last year was kind of our kick-off,” Hain said. “We did our palette challenge, sponsored by Blackburns, they provided the palettes. And so, this year, we kind of wanted to keep the tradition alive to keep something going with a certain material.”
With tin cans being an accessible material, Hain said they selected them so they could see what the kids’ imaginations would come up with.
The challenge was presented to members of 4-H and Clover-Kids in early June and they had until July 8 to say what they would bring to the Antelope County Fair.
Three judges from Grand Island decided the winners of the most creative, best workmanship and most unique tin can challenge.
According to Hain, they wanted to get this project started because of the immense creativity it brings out in the kids.
“These kids are so creative and there’s so many different ways you can take one certain thing and make a multitude of all of these different projects,” she said.
With the versatility of these project challenges, not only do the kids enjoy it, but the public does as well.
“I think the kids have a blast with it and it’s really cool for the public to kind of see what the kids come up with,” Hain said.
Ethan Hinkle – iPod dock and amplifier
In his first year in 4-H, Elgin Public eighth grader Ethan Hinkle won the purple championship ribbon in the most unique category of the tin can challenge.
He constructed an iPod dock and amplifier, an idea that was inspired by pop can speakers that he found online.
“We went on the internet a little bit and I found some can speakers made out of pop cans and I decided it would be cool to make one out of tin cans,” Hinkle said.
His project’s completion took him three to four days because the first time he did it, he put on too heavy of a coat, causing it to crack and need replacement.
Materials he used included two tin cans, a pvc pipe and blue and black spray paint, as well as cardboard and paper to create a phone visual.
For Hinkle, the most difficult part was shaping the hole in the pvc pipe for his phone, and the easiest part was putting everything together.
With that, he learned that sometimes success requires some trial and error.
“Sometimes it takes a couple tries to get things right, and it’s not always going to be right the first time,” Hinkle said.
Being able to see the finished product made all of the work worth it.
“I like seeing it all come together and look pretty good, and then getting the ribbon on it,” he said. “It felt pretty good considering it was my first year.”
Austin Hinkle – Silverware holder
Austin Hinkle, who will be in sixth grade at Elgin Public, also placed in the tin project challenge in his first year in 4-H.
For his silverware holder, Hinkle earned a purple championship ribbon in the best workmanship category.
While browsing Pinterest, the idea hit him.
“My mom and I were just looking on Pinterest and stuff, and we just found this and we wanted to have it for our camper to hold silverware,” Hinkle said.
He said he spent about a couple weeks putting together all of his materials – four tin cans, stickers, reading “forks,” “knives,” “spoons” and “napkins,” some wood and a handle on top.
“The most difficult part was probably painting the cans with spray paint because green is a light color, so it takes a couple coats,” Hinkle said. “And then, the easiest part was probably putting it all together and screwing it on.”
He said his favorite part was putting the stickers on and he learned that it can take a few tries before getting a project right.
After the fair, his silverware holder will find good use in their camper.
“We’re going to put it in the camper so we can use it when we have picnics out at parks and stuff.”
Aidan Gregory – Drum set
Neligh-Oakdale eighth grader Aidan Gregory put his love for music into his tin can project – a drum set.
He was initially going to create a stove but realized the idea was already taken by his brother.
“So, I decided to go with the drum set since I really like music,” Gregory said. “I listen to it and I wanted to make some.”
He said the drum set was an easy decision because it would be easier to create than other instruments.
Gregory spent a day setting up the drums and then another day painting it. He also used a pickle jar, which he said is like a snare drum but at a higher pitch. For cymbals, he stacked can tops, and for his bass drum, he utilized a tuna can.
Creating the drums was easily his favorite part of the project, he said.
“It was a lot of experimentation and I just really like experimenting; I like tinkering. It’s just really fun,” Gregory said.
He will bring his drum set back home and keep it in his room as a reminder of his accomplishment, as his project earned him a championship purple ribbon in the most creative category.
While this was his first year taking part in the project challenge, Gregory said he learned some valuable lessons from it.
“I learned how experimentation can get you far, and that trying and re-trying and failure doesn’t mean you’re bad,” he said. “It just means that, ‘Hey, it just takes a little more practice and more experimentation.’”
Bailey Ahlers – Tealight holders
After searching online and realizing her mom, Amy, has tea lights, Clearwater Public School sixth grader Bailey Ahlers quickly decided what she would make for the tin can project.
When putting together her tea light holders in the two to three days it took, she used an ample amount of spray paint, a drill, wood and three tin cans.
“It’s kind of like a night light, I would say,” Ahlers said. “And, my mom just decided to put it on a board because it was really hard to hot glue the cans together. And for the ombre, I used spray paint, but it was hard because if you just sprayed up, it would just go all the way up the side of the can.”
Her mom helped her drill the holes, which Ahlers said was her favorite part. Amy then took it to her work where they grinded the inside of it to smooth it out.
Ahlers said she got the cans from her grandma, who uses a lot of cans for the family.
“It took a while to find the right cans because my grandma saves so many,” she said.
After the fair, Ahlers said she might give it to her grandma or grandpa because they just moved into a new house.
Her tea light holders earned her a red award ribbon at the Antelope County Fair this year.
This was her second time doing the project challenge, as she did last year’s project with pallets.
“I had written my last name on it with rocks. “It said ‘Ahlers,’” she said. “And then, I gave it to my grandma, Kathy, so they can hang it up in the house by all of the kids’ pictures.”
With two years already under her belt, Ahlers said she will likely continue to participate in the project challenge in future years.
“I might because it just gives me more stuff to do,” she said.