What can kids learn from a matchbox?


Staff Writer

HARLINGEN — Matchbox cars.

Remember those?

Some kids taking a summer enrichment camp are giving the name a whole new spin, building cars out of simple match boxes and constructing bridges from the matches.

“We have been in different groups and we have to make our cars and build bridges together,” said Frankie Rodriguez, 12. “I have learned teamwork and that we could do everything by working together and becoming one.”

A wooden bridge stretched from his desk to the one next to him, the matches forming the bottom to look like sort of a rickety foot bridge over a deep chasm reaching to the floor.

More wooden pieces rose from plastic wheels, the car’s structure taking on the appearance of an older vehicle out of an Indiana Jones flick.

Other students nearby used glue guns to finish their projects.

“Right now the kids are working on their bridges, and we will be testing them tomorrow,” said Crystal Cantu, instructor of the architecture and physics camp at Harlingen High School. She is teaching the class along with Denise Molina.

The camp is one of many summer enrichment camps being offered as part of the Harlingen school district’s “Beyond the Bell.”

Testing will include ensuring wheels and axles have been properly placed by running them down ramps.

Ezra Echavarria was enjoying the camp.

“We made a car out of wood and tested it for speed,” he said. “I like them showing me how to do these things. I like making things.”

The camp is acquainting him with the difficulties of engineering projects.

“It’s hard making sure everything’s exact,” he said.