When students at the Dayton (Ohio) Regional STEM School would go outside for recess or an outdoor lesson, they had to sit on the ground. Alex Arehart, a sophomore at the school, noticed the lack of seating and other improvements he could make.
“I knew I wanted to do something for the school; it’s still a growing school,” Alex says. “I wanted to play a role in that growth and create something that will benefit the students for years to come.”
Alex approached the superintendent, proposing that his Eagle Scout project could help. The superintendent directed him to come up with some ideas. What he came up with was worthy of this year’s Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award.
Eagle Scout projects come in many, many forms. Some Scouts choose to coordinate fundraisers; others build memorials; some renovate decrepit structures. All are great, as Scouts help their communities and the causes they deeply care about.
Alex, a member of Troop 85 in Beavercreek, Ohio, chose to do something big.
“For me, what’s the point if it’s going to be gone in a few years or if it’s not going to be used?” he says.
After coming up with an idea and conferring with the superintendent, he decided to construct a large outdoor seating area capable of accommodating nearly 80 students at a time. The area could be for all 600-plus students, giving them a place to play, hang out and learn.
GETTING TO WORK
Alex would incorporate the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts taught at the school in his Eagle Scout project. Using Autodesk Inventor computer software, he designed a 3D model of his idea: multilevel molded concrete seats. They would be durable and require little maintenance.
Alex didn’t want to just make a few. He planned on 35 seats.
Not only would he need to create wooden forms to pour the concrete into, but he would also need to secure volunteers and funds.
“There was a lot of risk involved in this project,” the then-14-year-old says. “There were a lot of people that had doubts that students would even use it.”
He eventually raised more than $8,200 and recruited 44 volunteers, including Freemasons, family members, fellow students, and Scouts from his troop and other troops to help during the seven major project days. In all, 1,212 service hours went into Alex’s project.
“I learned a lot about concrete construction,” he says.
Volunteers cut and labeled 155 two-by-fours into more than 500 individual pieces and fashioned them — along with sheets of melamine — into the 35 forms that would hold 20 yards of concrete. That’s 85,000 pounds of concrete. (It took three separate trucks to deliver the materials.)
The smallest seats were 20-by-20-by-20 inches, while the largest was 90-by-90-by-20 inches. Color additives were mixed into the concrete, which would eliminate the need to apply (and later reapply) paint.
“It turned out to match the school’s building colors,” Alex says. “The most rewarding thing was seeing other students use it.”
— Alex, Troop 85, Beavercreek, Ohio