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Watershed Charter School seventh-graders build berry combs for upcoming trip

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Posted: Monday, August 22, 2011 11:01 pm | Updated: 1:23 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — An abundance of thumps and clings could be heard Friday at Watershed Charter School as students practiced their hammering skills.

Chris Garbes-Slaght’s seventh-grade class at Watershed was gearing up for a camping trip to the Chatanika River this week. On the overnight trip, the students will pick berries to make pies in class, and to make their berry picking most efficient, he had his students make berry combs.

Garbes-Slaght had his kids construct the combs from a small piece of wood with 11 pre-drilled holes, 11 nails and metal wire to keep the wood from splitting.

He told the students he likes picking berries one by one, but the combs make the job go by quickly.

“I can just push this in the bushes and there’s like six berries on there,” he demonstrated with his toothy comb.

He led the kids outdoors so they could practice nailing three small nails in a row, then pounding a large nail into some scrap railroad ties without bending it. The students wore safety glasses and worked in partners.

Dawson Fickus, 12, was wrapping his wire around the ends of his small wooden block, preparing to pound the 11 nails in a row. While others were having trouble tying the wire around, he said it wasn’t too challenging.

“Hitting the three nails was hard, though,” he said. “One, they were small, and you had to have them in a row.”

Maija Hajdukovich, 12, was having a harder time wrapping the firm wire tightly around her block. Once it was wrapped, though, she said twisting the ends together with pliers was easy.

“It will work, I am determined,” she said once she had achieved her final stages. Some of the nails were spaced too widely to capture berries, while others were too close to allow stems to slide through.

Garbes-Slaght encouraged kids who showed him their final products.

“You’re going to get some good berries with this baby,” he said to one student.

The project gave the students a sense of accomplishment, he explained.

“It’s showing kids they can make things,” he said. It also would get them in touch with the outdoors, he said.

The group goes on their overnight Thursday.

Contact staff writer Reba Lean at 459-7523.

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