GENEVA, Ill. (STMW) – One of Kane County’s most treasured landmarks will travel to McCormick Place in Chicago this weekend, courtesy of the kids at Heartland Elementary School.
Teacher Jill Nippert’s third-grade students have created a model of the old Kane County Courthouse in downtown Geneva — made out of LEGO blocks.
It is one of 20 models of historic buildings entered in the 2010 LEGO Landmark School Competition at the Chicago LEGO KidsFest convention. The class won the chance to build and enter its model by submitting an essay explaining what the courthouse means to Geneva residents.
“Today the courthouse is important to our community because it remains a place where the community gathers for special events like the yearly celebration of lighting the Christmas tree on the courthouse lawn during the Christmas Walk. It is also a place to meet for the Festival of the Vine and buy local grown food from the farmers market,” students wrote in the essay.”
“There were thousands of schools in the contest, and we were one of the 20 that won,” boasted third-grader Jacob Loizzo. “We all had hope that our essay would get picked.”
The class used LEGOs donated by Target and Walmart in Batavia, as well as some purchased by Nippert at the last minute.
“I had to go to several stores to get enough red ones, because nobody had them,” she said.
Nippert and her students spent the next 2 weeks designing and building their courthouse model, working during lunches, recesses and after school. Using photographs of the courthouse as guides, they re-created the building’s red brick façade, rows of windows and distinctively curved green roof. They even reproduced the guns and the war memorial that stand in front of the building.
“The most fun part was finishing off the roof and putting on the last little touches like trees,” said Anna Spindle.
“I think the most fun was when it was almost finished and we could see it coming together,” added Jonathan Maher.
The class did a lot of cooperative problem solving to finish the project, Nippert said.
“This really enhanced our curriculum. We emphasize problem-solving skills in third grade, and we also teach Geneva history, which this fits right into,” she noted.
KidsFest visitors will vote on their favorite landmark models during the convention. The winning class will receive a $250 LEGO gift certificate.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)