When chemistry teacher Andrea Ferenac assigned a project for her honors chemistry class, she had no idea the entire school would end up getting involved.
''This project brought kids from all grades to this room,'' Ferenac said. ''Working on this was super peaceful. Everyone got along, there were no disagreements and nothing bad happened.''
The assignment was an open-ended chemistry project that is summed up in the statement, "You must be the change you want to see in the world." One team from the class decided to create a pyramid made entirely of pennies. The pyramid was the brainchild of one of Ferenac's honors students, Jacob Froats, who said he's been working on his idea as long ago as last summer.
Howland Community News / Kathleen Evanoff
Howland High School students, from left, Destiny Zunic, Cody Davis, Jennifer Knapp and Jacob Froats, stand beside the penny pyramid built at Howland High School between May 14 and May 30. The pyramid was an environmental chemistry project assigned by teacher Andrea Ferenac and also was used as a fundraiser for the high school Interact Club as a service project.
''Me and my cousin always come up with crazy ideas,'' Jacob said. ''Once we broke the record by stacking 121 pennies straight up. I thought a pyramid would be fun to do.''
The project turned out to cover not only the environmental chemistry project assigned by Ferenac, but it also worked as a fundraising project for the Howland High School Interact Club, a student organization sponsored by the Howland Rotary Club. Ferenac is the Interact Club adviser. The students hope to raise $5,000 for World Vision International, an organization that works with children, families and communities around the world to overcome poverty.
''Our donations will help buy livestock and get clean water for people who don't have it,'' Jacob said.
The team, consisting of Destiny Zunic, Cody Davis, Jennifer Knapp and Jacob, began fundraising for pennies for the pyramid over spring break in April, Jacob said. The most difficult part of the project was finding a place to build the pyramid. The Howland Branch Library and the Butler Museum of Art Trumbull County Branch couldn't accommodate the students because of scheduling conflicts, so they decided to build it in a spare room at the high school.
Raising more than $1,000 in donations, the rest of the cost of the pennies needed for the pyramid was backed by parents, Jacob said. When they were ready to begin building, Jacob purchased the pennies from the bank and the students began building.
Once the word got out about the project, more students from the school began filtering into the room to help during their free periods, Ferenac said. What started out as a project for four students ballooned into a project for the entire school, she said. More than 100 students worked on the pyramid totaling over 800 man hours.
''I have been awed how this has united students from our school to rally together to help,'' Ferenac said.
''Our hands would get black from stacking all the pennies,'' said team member Cody Davis.
According to Jacob's calculations, the entire pyramid is made up of 510,390 pennies totaling $5,103.90. The base is made of 53 stacks of pennies on each side with one less stack on each row as the pyramid grew upward. The entire pyramid weighs a little over 3,000 pounds, Jacob said.
''They had a vision and they made it happen,'' Ferenac said. ''I truly have the greatest job in the world.''
Anyone wishing to donate to the Howland Interact Club's World Vision project can send donations to Howland High School Interact Club, 200 Shaffer Drive, Warren, OH 44484.