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A Practical Gift:

Century STEM Students Design Wheel Attachments for Classroom Tables


Students in a Century Middle School STEM class have given one of their teachers the gift of flexible classroom furniture. They designed and created a simple way to add wheels to the bottom of tables, making them easier to move around into different configurations in the classroom.

Everything started when English teacher, Ms. Kallie Bernier, came to Ms. Jodie Bray’s 7th grade STEM class with a request. She told the class she is always moving her classroom furniture around into different configurations for different lessons. Her furniture does not have wheels like some newer furniture in the district, making it a hassle to move around. Ms. Bernier and Ms. Bray challenged the students to come up with a cost-effective solution. 

The students split up into teams and got to work using the engineering design process to come up with a solution to create an attachment that would make the tables easy to move. The students were also required to create a product that could be 3D-printed, would take less than three hours to print, and would be able to support the weight of a student.

The teams pitched their ideas to Ms. Bernier’s class, which voted on the best idea. The winning product was designed by Eloise Godwin, Lee Jensen, and Cecilia Kinny. Their design is a cylinder with a peg on top that fits inside the bottom of a hollow table leg. The bottom of the cylinder has a hole that fits a pegged wheel. Using four of these 3D-printed attachments, they were able to put a table on wheels. 

“We had to revise our design around four times,” said Godwin. 

“We had to get the measurements right so it would fit on this part of the wheel,” said Jensen as she held up one of the wheels as an example. “Then we had to make the walls thicker so it could hold up more weight.”

“Learning how to do the measurements took awhile, like the diameter of the wheel pegs and the inside dimensions of the hollow table leg,” said Kinny. 

“Then I remember we had problems where the plastic shrinks, so we had to size up the design so it could shrink down,” said Godwin.

On Wednesday, March 29, the three students delivered the first table in a very fun way. Jensen sat on top of the table as Godwin and Kinny rolled it into Ms. Bernier’s classroom. Ms. Bernier was so excited and thanked the students for their hard work. Following spring break, the team will 3D print enough attachments for the rest of the tables in the classroom.


Career & Tech Volunteer Highlight from District 916

After taking the Animal Science and Natural Resource program at 916’s Career and Tech Center, Justin Breister started volunteering in the classroom and improving/maintaining the animal facilities. In the last four years, Justin has been building, painting, cleaning, or helping out wherever he can.

“I like to create things for the program and help whenever possible. The animals here are great to work with and are the main reason I keep coming back.”

Animal housings, playpens, stands, and planters have been designed and built by Justin and his Dad, Jim, an engineer at 3M. Over the years, they have built rabbit houses, a guinea pig playpen, mobile planters, bird cages, etc. He is creating/building a chinchilla habitat, a new aviary, and replacing the greenhouse gravel flooring.

Justin says his favorite creation so far is the mobile ladder stand he built for his favorite animal, Carmen, a parrot who is the unofficial mascot for Career and Tech. He made the ladder stand move so when the staff is teaching about Carmen; they can move him with ease. Carmen loves his stand so much that he has started to chew on the ladder.

Cindy Landers, the Animal Science and Natural Resources teacher said this about having Justin as a volunteer: “Justin is an asset to this program. He is willing to take on any task I ask of him, and we often brainstorm ideas for future projects.”

Through the Animal Science and Natural Resources program, students will gain a competitive advantage in helping animals and the environment by exploring animals and plant sciences. Many will get a jump start on a career in Minnesota ecosystems like water, soils, forestry, and wildlife.

Learn more about the program here:


High School Students Engineer Hope for an Underdog

Officials with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) were so intrigued by an engineering project at Stillwater Area High School that they had to see it for themselves. After reading an article in the Washington Post about the incredible work of students in creating assistive devices for a 3-legged dog, USPTO officials decided to visit teacher Matt Howe’s classroom.

The Saving Sadie project piqued the interest of Derrick Brent, Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO, as well as Assistant Regional Director James Wilson and Patent Examiner Sheree Brown. They were excited to see the students’ designs in action and expressed how much they admired their creativity, saying it gave them hope for the future of the U.S. economy. The officials even offered to help the students apply for patents that might come out of this project.

For the past several weeks, students have been busy creating assistive devices to help Sadie, an 8-year-old Brittany Spaniel get around easier. Sadie, who lives with high school para Nancy Schoenecker and her family, lost one of her front legs in an accident when she was just a year and a half old. While she can run just as fast on 3 legs as she ever did on 4, she tires quickly. She’s also developing arthritis and could use some assistance getting around.

After researching different types of assistive devices, drawing plans, and eventually designing a prototype using CAD software they used 3D printers, laser cutters and other technologies to build carts or prosthetics to help Sadie get around. Then they put their concepts to the test and learned what worked well and what needed improvement. Next they will make adjustments, refine their projects and test them again. The students are hopeful their creations will keep Sadie active for years to come.


Two Sisters Cook up a Recipe for Success

Stillwater Area Public Schools

Inspiration can strike at any moment. Just ask Eva Stafne, a 3 sport athlete and high-achieving student who is a senior at Stillwater Area High School (SAHS). While browsing through Facebook Marketplace last spring, she came across a vintage 1960s Winnebago camper for sale - and in that moment the vision for Roxy’s Waffles food truck was born.

“My sister is always baking and has dreamed of opening a bakery or restaurant,” Eva said. “I just knew it would be the perfect food truck.”

Eva and her sister Miranda, who is a freshman at SAHS, got the okay from their parents to buy the Winnebago. Together they pooled their savings from summer jobs and babysitting to fund the renovation from vintage camper to industrial food truck. They developed a 5-year business plan and found investors (their mom and step-dad), who matched their initial investment.

Over the summer Miranda, whose middle name Roxanne influenced the company’s name, perfected the waffle recipe and designed the menu while Eva did all of the demo and renovation of the trailer. Eva researched the health and safety requirements for food trucks and scoured the internet for deals on equipment. She gutted the trailer, selling anything of value to help fund the renovations. Her grandfather helped her with the electrical work and she watched YouTube videos to learn how to do all the required plumbing.

When they weren’t working on the trailer, they were researching food trucks. As a family, they visited every food truck they could find to sample menus, talk to owners, peek into kitchens and absorb knowledge to guide their own business plan.

“I really enjoy the business aspect - from financing to strategy,” said Eva, who has plans to study business and engineering but is still deciding between colleges. “It’s exciting to see what we can do and how we can grow.”

In mid-September the pair passed their health inspection with Washington County and Roxy’s Waffles was officially licensed to operate.

“We passed the inspection - basically aced it!” Eva said proudly. “That was a gratifying day. I immediately laminated the license, hung it on the wall and we just stood back and stared at it.”

But the pair didn’t have long to sit back and celebrate their accomplishments. They appeared at their first public event just two weeks after receiving their license and already have events booked for the remainder of the fall and into the summer. They were even one of the featured food trucks at the high school’s Pony Homecoming Carnival.

“No one believed me when I told them we were starting a food truck,” Miranda said. “They were all like, ‘Sure, good luck with that.’ I think people will be shocked to see us out in the community.”

The pair have an ambitious plan to pay off their investment in the food truck, and hopefully turn a profit, over the next five years. But making money is only part of the strategy. The food truck is also providing them with real-world experiences and most importantly, it’s giving them quality time together.

“Knowing this is my last year before I go off to college, this gives us some great sister time,” Eva said. “It’s something we can build together. It really helps us enjoy every moment.”


The Glen Lake Accessible Playground Project

Hopkins Public Schools

The Glen Lake Accessible Playground Project is a teacher, student, and staff lead initiative with the goal of creating a new and fully accessible playground. Key features include a wheelchair swing and merry-go-round. This will create equitable play opportunities to grow connections and friendships between students who use wheelchairs, and their peers. Accessible equipment will greatly enhance the recess and general outdoor experience for our students who use wheelchairs AND be an incredible asset to our community.

One of Hopkins Public Schools' core values is authentic inclusivity. When we create environments and spaces that allow everyone to participate, we tap into our humanity by modeling empathy for others. This is a tremendous skill for our students to build and will inspire each student to reach their full potential while making the world a better place.

Our students' original DREAM BIG wish was to raise $300,000. At this level, we are able to install a wheelchair swing, merry-go-round, and a poured in rubber surface throughout the current playground. With the help of friends and family, local businesses, community members, and donors, we not only met our goal, but surpassed it. Amazing!!

They now have an even bigger goal - to raise enough funds to build a fully accessible upper playground. Our students are thinking creatively when imagining the possibilities. Ideas include ramps throughout so students can access ALL areas of the playground, sunshades for students who are sensitive to light, lowered basketball hoops so all can play the game... the ideas are limitless!

To learn more about the Accessible Playground Project and to donate, go to