Building block kids: A bridge toward a construction career

Approximately 25 children gathered Saturday morning into the Wapakoneta Elementary School cafeteria to construct with Legos any type of structure they wanted.
Appropriately, the overall winning entry was a bridge designed by Jacob Schreiner as the competition is designed to introduce and build a bridge between children and the construction industry. The competition was organized by members of the Lima Ohio Area Chapter 374 of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC).
“Basically, the main purpose of today’s event is to expose the kids to the construction industry and careers in construction,” Lima NAWIC member Kim Neeley told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “Basically we provided them with Legos, a rock, string, foil and poster board and they could basically build anything they could come up with.”
Each child, from the first through fifth grade, was provided with 100 Lego blocks, and given 40 minutes to build their structure or creation.
“They are judged on creativity, how much thought they put into it and planning,” Neeley said. “They (judges) ask them five or six questions and a lot of the points are based on how well they answer the questions because the questions are geared to learn about their thought process — whether they throw something together or did they put a lot of thought into it.”
She noted one fifth-grader worked on building a nuclear reactor while another participant built an ancient ruin.
“We really hope they gain some insight into the construction industry because we are all from the construction field,” Neeley said. “We hope maybe we spark an interest for them in the construction field.”
Jacob, a Wapakoneta Elementary School first-grade student, constructed a bridge with a rock in the water and the aluminum foil serving as rushing water under the bridge.
“I built a bridge because I wanted to and I thought I would win,” Jacob said. “I did not think I would win but I thought I would do pretty good, but I did win.
“I am really, really, really happy.”
Talking fast and shifting his weight quickly from foot to foot, he said he built a bridge because he “really, really, really likes bridges.”
Jacob and his brother, Maddux, competed in Saturday’s event.
For Jacob, the interview portion was easy since he loves to play with Legos at home and he loves to build with the small blocks.
“I want to be a builder when I grow up,” the son of Heather and Bill Schreiner told the Wapakoneta Daily News.
His creativity and love for Legos does not surprise his mother.
“He really amazes me,” Heather Schreiner said. “He puts these big sets together without any of our help at home.”
Travis Nanchoff, a second-grader at Perry Schools, sat intently on a schematic drawing provided by Garmann-Miller & Associates for each participant to sit on.
“I liked coming today because my grandmother and my mom could be here,” said Travis, the son of Jeanette and Donnie Nanchoff. “I also really like to play with Legos. I like Legos because they have these little dots on them to make them stick together and that makes it easy to build towers and houses.”
On Saturday, Travis, who has been building with Legos since he was 5, built a house with a rock inside with healing powers.
Caleb Schellenberg sat quietly as two judges, Jacob and Josh Skinner, asked him questions. He built a tower for the competition.
“I like that I could do this competition,” the son of Christy and Chris Schellenberg said. “I built a tower. I came today to try and win and now I really like playing with them (legos).”
Caleb is a second-grader at Wapakoneta Elementary School.
Winners of each school year bracket received Toys R’ Us gift cards from the sponsors, while the overall winner, Jacob Schreiner, received a $100 U.S. savings bond from CHARLES Construction Services and a K’nex building set provided by the Basement Doctor.
For Ashlye Ruppert, the daughter of Mary and Brad Ruppert, she took her inspiration from an object in the room.
“You can pretty much build anything you want,” Ashlye, a third-grader at Wapakoneta, said. “I saw the flag on the stage and I knew we just celebrated Veterans Day so I decided to build a flag.”
Ethan Rodabaugh, a fifth-grader from Bluffton, built a small cottage.
“One of the reasons I built a cottage is I know how to build a house easily and I really like building houses,” the son of Linda and Steve Rodabaugh said.
For him and the others, attending Saturday came down to one reason.
“I came today (Saturday) because I really thought it would be a fun time,” Ethan said, “and it was.”