2020 Eagle Project of the Year: He used STEM to build school seating

When students at the Dayton Regional STEM School would go outside for recess or an outdoor lesson, they had to sit on the ground. Alex Arehart, a sophomore at the school, noticed the lack of seating and other improvements that could be made to the fledgling campus.

“I knew I wanted to do something for the school; it’s still a growing school,” Alex says. “I wanted to play a role in that growth and create something that will benefit the students for years to come.”

Alex approached the superintendent, proposing that his Eagle Scout project could help the school. The superintendent directed him to come up with some ideas. What he came up with was worthy of this year’s Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award.

Constructing an idea

Eagle Scout projects come in many, many forms. Some Scouts choose to coordinate fundraisers; others build memorials, while some renovate decrepit structures. All are great as Scouts help their communities, entities and causes they deeply care about. See some of these awesome projects here.

Alex, a member of Troop 85 in Beavercreek, Ohio, chose to do something big.

“For me, what’s the point if it’s going to be gone in a few years or if it’s not going to be used?” Alex says.

After coming up with an idea and conferring with the superintendent, he decided to construct a large outdoor seating area, capable of accommodating nearly 80 students at a time. The area could be for all 600-plus students, giving them a place to play, hang out and learn.

Alex would incorporate the science, technology, engineering and math concepts taught at the school in his Eagle Scout project. Using Autodesk Inventor computer software, he designed a 3D-model of his idea: multi-level molded concrete seats. They would be durable and require little maintenance.

Alex didn’t want to just make a few. He planned on 35 seats.

A massive project

Not only would he need to create wooden forms to pour the concrete into, he also needed to secure volunteers, work days and funds. Many business owners that Alex approached for support thought his plan was too ambitious and declined to contribute.

“There was a lot of risk involved in this project,” the then-14-year-old says. “There were a lot of people that had doubt that students would even use it.”

He didn’t let a “no” discourage him. He eventually raised more than $8,200 and recruited 44 volunteers, including Freemasons, family members, fellow students and Scouts from his troop and other troops to help during the seven major project days. All in all, 1,212 service hours went into Alex’s project.

“I learned a lot about concrete construction,” Alex says.

Volunteers cut and labeled 155 2x4s into more than 500 individual pieces, and fashioned them, along with sheets of melamine, into the 35 forms that would hold 20 yards of concrete, delivered by three separate trucks. That’s 85,000 pounds of concrete, Alex says.

The smallest seats were 20x20x20 while the largest was 90x90x20. Color additives were mixed into the concrete. This route would avoid having to apply and later reapply paint.

“It turned out to match the school’s building colors,” Alex says.

The work days went smoothly, fulfilling Alex’s goal.

“The most rewarding thing was seeing other students use it,” Alex says.

2020 Eagle Scout Projects of the Year

This post is one of several articles recognizing four outstanding Eagle projects. Each one covered in these posts received the Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award. The 2020 Adams awards recognize outstanding Eagle projects completed by young people who earned Eagle in 2019.

The award process begins at the council level, where each council can nominate one outstanding project to the National Eagle Scout Association. From there, one project from each BSA region — Central, Northeast, Western and Southern — is selected to receive the Adams award.

Regional recipients get $500 each for future educational purposes or to attend a national or international Scouting event or facility. Their councils also get $500 apiece.

Next, a special selection committee of the National Eagle Scout Association selects a national winner from among those four recipients. The national recipient gets $2,500 for future educational purposes or to attend a national or international Scouting event or facility. Their council gets $2,500, too.

2020 Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award recipients

  • National winner (representing the Central Region): Alex Arehart of the Tecumseh Council
    • Designed, engineered and 3D-modeled an outdoor seating structure at local STEM school
  • Southern Region winner: Mason Wettengel of the Middle Tennessee Council
    • Renovated five apartments for veterans
  • Northeast Region winner: Timothy Maron of the Columbia-Montour Council
    • Built a “tiny house” for a previously homeless veteran
  • Western Region winner: Tanner Hyde of the Longs Peak Council
    • Improved wheelchair accessibility at a local park

Stay tuned to read more about these impressive projects! And watch the video below when Alex joined a Facebook Live event to talk about his project.

About Michael Freeman 201 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is associate editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.