Recycling project nets Kindles for fifth grade class

Dec. 16, 2013 @ 05:58 PM

Fifth grade students at Liberty Drive turned scrap metal and aluminum can tabs into two dozen Kindle Fires.
Scott Van Newkirk's fifth grade class in September embarked on a recycling project to raise money for the purchase of a Kindle Fire for each student. Van Newkirk felt the Kindles would provide students with an invaluable tool that could transform his class into a 21st Century learning environment.
After more than two months of picking up cans, tearing apart computers and breaking down lawnmowers, Van Newkirk's students raised close to $2,000. When combined with a Donor Choose NC grant, the recycling project funds were enough to purchase 24 Kindle Fires, putting one in every child's hand. 
"Now every kid has a Kindle and they also have extra money to purchase books for it," Van Newkirk said. "I can email them assignments and they can email me like an online college would do. They can research and access information. It has really taken my role as teacher into more of a facilitator, which is what a 21st Century classroom ought to look like."
Students left no stone unturned during their hunt for recyclable materials. Family members, friends and local businesses donated scrap metal. Children spent time after school disassembling projectors, sorting car parts and collecting tabs from aluminum cans. During a celebration of the project at Fair Grove United Methodist Church on Dec. 12, Van Newkirk presented two Kindles to the two students who tallied the most can tabs. Jamoni Collins received one for leading her class, as she collected more tabs than she could remember.
"It was amazing," said Collins. "I just went to my friends and family and just asked them if they could donate tabs so I could give them to my school and recycle them. We recycled and helped the environment."
Sawaira Khan also received a Kindle of her own for gathering the most tabs schoolwide. Khan, a fifth grader in Ashley Lawlor’s class, said her father helped a lot.
"I feel really proud of myself that I won it," Khan said. "It was a lot of work. At the beginning we only collected less than a box and I was telling my dad that we weren't going to win, but he said yes we are."
Van Newkirk said the project was so successful that he plans to do something similar again next year.

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or