Two wheels featuring brown trout and river herring will spin to move the wings of an Eastern Phoebe when the Dianis’ family float is placed into the Shawsheen River Saturday night.
The float is one of a few created for the Andover Thrives Community Day in partnership between families with Challenge Me Inc. and the town’s 375th Anniversary Committee. The floats will be the final event on a day that both celebrates the town’s history and looks to the future, “and what a better way than having children show their skills,” said Ann Ormond, the town’s director of business, arts and culture.
Allison Dianis started volunteering as a project manager for Challenge Me Inc. — a local nonprofit that organizes Destination Imagination (DI) teams for competition — to help her daughter Elise, 11, stay active throughout the pandemic. Because of her involvement in the organization she was asked to create a float for the town celebration. It was mostly a family ordeal with her husband, Scott, and 8-year-old Nathan helping as well.
“It’s such a unique opportunity for creativity and to learn these skills,” Scott said, helping Nathan use a drill.
Destination Imagination is an educational nonprofit that allows students of all ages to build teams and compete to create a variety of projects. Dianis’ team of 6th grade girls also worked on the float.
Throughout the year, small DI teams of no more than seven students work together on their project. Their team manager, who is typically a parent or possibly a former participant, guides the students in understanding what needs to be done and helping schedule the meetings.
As engineers, Allison and Scott saw this as a great opportunity for their daughter to learn about problem-solving.
“The sense of accomplishment is a big part of this as well,” Allison said.
Elise was able to design the Eastern Phoebe and paint the bird, which was her favorite part, she said.
All of the animals depicted are native local species. Scott said featuring the river herring and brown trout were inspired because of a program he participated in with Memorial Hall Library.
And Nathan is excited about the illumination — working to ensure the LED and twinkling lights will be able to show off the float on the night of the event.