Dynamite Dinoramas!

                    Emily Sellers, Staff Writer

An unstated rule requires that every child make some model having to do with dinosaurs, the solar system, or cells. Most do the projects and then forget about them—well, I haven't. All three of the previously listed projects were of epic proportions and had their share of grand battles.

My fourth grade dinosaur project is one of the greatest things I've ever made. Not only did I learn about these creatures, but I also discovered some of my inherited ingenuity. I was able to double the base of my project by folding down a flap of the Xerox box. My mom and I figured a way to fold the flap back up into the box so that the lid would fit and I could carry it to school—an engineering marvel in fourth grade.

While I constructed this diorama, I learned what standards are important to me, and I began to comprehend my family's storage capacity. As an over-achiever, I wanted the dinosaurs to be the correct scale, but quickly came to the conclusion that it is impossible to find proportional plastic dinosaurs—I searched and searched through our collection but nothing was good enough. So my doting mom, in all her maternal knowing, remembered her brother's toy dinosaurs from the 1960s. She called my grandmother to see whether she still had them. The question of "whether" my family has kept something is a ridiculous notion because we are hopeless pack rats; the question that matters is "where is it?"

My home had all the other needed supplies—I just had to think imaginatively. I used sidewalk chalk to color the sky, crumpled brown paper bags to create the mountains and twisted blue plastic wrap to form the river. Small pieces of the bushes by my front door became part of the primordial vegetation. My mom helped me to defy gravity by anchoring the dinosaurs using fishing line. I kept thinking of details to add to my little sanctuary like foot prints in the mud on the river bank. I even positioned the dinosaurs—to protect the herbivores from the meat eaters that kept eyeing them.

My diorama set the standard for all other three dimensional projects to come. My entire family recalls the five-foot long model of the solar system, complete with planetary moons and orbits. Another favorite is the animal cell. Each cell part is suspended in clear candle wax confined in a clear container which permitted full circle viewing. I worked very hard on these projects—so much so that the question is not "Do you remember that project?" but rather "Who could forget that project?" I couldn't bear the thought of throwing any of them away so my mom has kept every one of them—in the pack rat tradition. So one day if my fourth grader needs dinosaurs, I will know who to call. Until then, my dinosaurs will lounge in their ersatz habitat in the attic.