Full STEAM ahead: Canstruction kicks off in Midland, bridging science, art and community

It’s not edible arrangements, but it’s pretty close.

Midland is hosting its first Canstruction competition, an international charitable competition where teams build structures out of canned and packaged food that will be donated to the area’s local food pantries at the conclusion of the event.

The Midland County Emergency Food Pantry Network (EFPN), Midland Public Schools (MPS) and the Midland Mall partnered together to host Canstruction Midland in an effort to raise awareness of food insecurity in the community.  All proceeds will benefit Midland County Emergency Food Pantry Network. Canstruction Midland can be seen at the Midland Mall February 21-29.

This year’s inaugural event is open to students from six local schools, including Academic and Career Education Academy, Bullock Creek High School, Dow High, Midland High as well as Jefferson Middle School and Northeast Middle School.

Students will be using the principles of STEAM; science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, to design and create their transportation-themed sculptures using canned and boxed food.

The teams will have five hours to build on Friday, February 21 beginning at 8:00 a.m. Their creations will be on display at the Midland Mall during regular mall hours until Saturday, February 29.

Technical awards for the event will be announced at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, February 21. Visitors will have a chance to vote for their favorite sculpture throughout the week by purchasing tickets. This will determine the winner of the People’s Choice Award, which will be announced at noon on Saturday, February 29, just before the sculptures are “de-canstructed”. Tickets are $1 each and will be sold near the food court.

A bill going to vote as part of Canstruction New Jersey.

Academic and Career Education Academy (ACEA) is one of the schools participating in the event. ACEA teacher Dana Draper says her students are building a “cantainer” ship and are using about 1,500 cans and packages in their design.

“I want them to learn the educational background of doing this, that it takes planning, and to realize how many people this can impact,” Draper says. “All this food is really great and it’s fun to build, but there are people that are going to need this food.”

EFPN Board Member Kim Birch says that approximately 6,000 food items will be donated as a result of the event.

Draper says there are students at ACEA who suffer from food insecurity and volunteering is something they try to encourage.

A sculpture as part of Canstruction New York.

“We’ve always felt like we get so much from the community that we want to give back too,” Draper says. “We just really believe in being out there volunteering and giving back to the community, so any time we can get ourselves doing something like that, we do it.”

According to the United Way of Midland County, one in three households struggle with meeting their basic needs.

In 2019, Midland County EFPN, which is comprised of eight pantries, served 2,630 households and distributed over 17,000 items each month to those in need.

A yard gnome as part of Canstruction Boston.

If you’re interested in donating, EFPN will be accepting monetary donations during the event on Friday, February 21. Donations can also be made through the EFPN website or mailing a check to the main office.

For more information or if you’re interested in getting involved, visit the Canstruction Midland event page or email canstructionmidland@gmail.com.


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