Book an appointment with Leading force Energy & Design Center using SetMore


West Valley freshmen repurpose trash into ‘What Would Grandma Do?’ projects By McKenzie Jamieson West Valley High School May 22, 2016

YAKIMA, Wash. -- One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

This is especially true when you look at the projects made by West Valley High School freshmen for their “What Would Grandma Do?” projects, an assignment conceived by freshman science teacher Chance Dolezal to help encourage students to reduce waste by taking trash around their house and “upcycling” it — which means turning it into something of higher value.

Stephanie Weise is the manager of Leading Force Energy and Design Center, a sustainable building product center located in downtown Yakima. Weise heard about the “What Would Grandma Do?” assignment through an article written about the projects last year and was interested in showing the students’ creations at her store.

“It caught my eye,” Weise said. “All of the things that we do here involve recycling, repurposing, and our products are made locally and from renewable or recyclable materials.”

The showcase of the projects took place May 6, as a part of the “First Friday” events at Leading Force.

“This open house is set up like an art gallery opening,” said Weise. “The freshman science class from West Valley brings their ‘What Would Grandma Do?’ upcycled projects here for the public to view and meet the students.”

According to Dolezal’s estimates, around 35 students talked about their projects at the showcase. “They did really well,” said Dolezal. “They’re articulating how they built it, how they came up with the idea.”

The showcase saw around 100 people floating in and out of Leading Force, according to Dolezal.

“The community was really good in asking the kids, ‘What’d you make?’ and then ‘How’d you make it?’ ” Dolezal said.

In addition to explaining their projects, students were able to get a peek into the world of being an entrepreneur.

“They were actually marketing their stuff,” said Dolezal. “They got to stick their toe in the entrepreneurship pool. We had a few kids sell their projects.”

In addition to visiting Leading Force, students were also introduced to another organization in Yakima called Yakima Maker Space, which will provide another opportunity next month for the public to see their class projects. Yakima Maker Space is hosting its inaugural Build-Off on June 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. at 16 S. First Street. This Build-Off will be a showcase to sell products made by local crafters, and the proceeds will be split 50-50 between the maker and Yakima Maker Space.

All in all, the students in the West Valley class gained a great opportunity through Leading Force’s First Friday event to expose their work to the public and get a chance to learn about different businesses in Yakima that promote recycling “trash” into something people are interested in buying.

“It was awesome,” Dolezal said. “It was, I would have to say, one of the best events I have ever been to. It was a lot of fun.”

• McKenzie Jamieson is a sophomore at West Valley High School and is a member of the Yakima Herald-Republic’s Unleashed program for teen journalists.