By Kristin Schultz
Creativity and a bit of structural engineering will intersect for a good cause this month, but not without some community support.
Niskayuna Girl Scouts will for the second year participate in Girls Can Do, a food drive and STEAM event in which teams of Scouts design and build thematic sculptures using donated cans of food and nonperishable items.
On Jan. 13, the Girl Scouts will take their canned goods to Albany’s Empire State Plaza and build their sculpture, which will remain on display throughout the weekend. The cans will then be donated to local food banks.
Troop 2115, composed of juniors at Niskayuna High School including project leader Lily Paperman, is spearheading the effort as it did for last year’s inaugural event. Other troops are helping with collection efforts and will also assist in building this year’s sculpture, a campfire.
“I’m artistic and I like that this brings art and engineering together,” Paperman said.
Paperman said the Girl Scouts voted for their favorite of three outdoor-themed designs: a tree, campfire or canoe. The campfire won by a landslide. If they collect enough cans, the sculpture will fill a 5-by-5-foot space and can be up to 4 feet tall.
To create the sculpture, the girls are asking for donations of specific foods. Instead of hitting Kohl’s on Black Friday, they went to local grocery stores — the Niskayuna Co-op, ShopRite, Price Chopper and Hannaford.
The labels on the canned items feature the colors needed to bring the sculpture to life. To create the look of a fire ring, the girls will use cans of Walnut Acres Baked Beans, Bruce’s Yams and Amy’s Organic Soups brand including minestrone, cream of mushroom and lentil.
For the yellow flames, the girls will stack cans of donated Allen’s Large Butter Beans and other yellow-dominated labels. The flames will also feature cans whose labels are red and orange.
Per the rules, the cans cannot be altered. For example, the cans cannot be wrapped in colored paper or painted in order to achieve a certain look.
Last year the Girl Scouts collected 406 cans and used them to create a Girl Scout Way-themed cube. They were one of three teams at the Can Do event and were recognized for having the biggest variety of canned goods in their sculpture.
This year, seven groups have signed up to participate, and Paperman and her mom, troop leader Jennifer, said they look forward to the event and will implement some changes based on their experience in 2016.
Lily Paperman said this year they are asking for specific cans so the colors on the final sculpture are more clear. She said they’ll be just as organized as last year, which helped complete the construction in about an hour and a half.
On Jan. 13, around 20 Niskayuna Girl Scouts of all ages will head to Empire State Plaza with their collected cans. Starting at 9 a.m., they will begin construction. They will have three hours to complete their sculpture, which will be judged by Linda Stephen of CanStruction, a similar event for professional architects and engineers held later in the spring.
“The engineering and the arts opportunities for the older Girl Scouts are great,” Lily said. “The Girl Scouts have helped me grow into who I am. I have gained leadership skills and am confident.”
For information on how to help and what to donate, visit the town’s website, niskayuna.org, or email Jennifer Paperman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations of cans must be made by Jan. 10.