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The North Bend Eagle


A whale of a project

NBC seniors pose with their life-size whale
NBC seniors Tyler Going, Jake Walker and Wyatt Chapman pose with
the life-size humpback whale they made during their aide period at school.

Senior boys turn boredom into learning experience

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 5/12/10

One of the highlights at this year’s North Bend Central Mayfest was something landlocked Nebraskans don’t usually see. A life sized, to scale, humpback whale.

The whale was the brainchild of NBC senior Jake Walker. He came up with the idea, did the research and bugged agricultural instructor Seth Heinert until he let him make it.

Walker serves as Heinert’s aide and used the end-of-year slow time to make the whale.

Funds left over from an aquaculture system were used for this, sort of, aqua project, which Jake figures out cost around $200.

Tyler Going and Wyatt Chapman are aides the same period and offered to help out. Walker did the research, drew the plans, calculated the material needed and cut out the 74-foot long whale using black and clear plastic.

“It took about a full week of aide classes,” Jake said. “We had to spread it out and take it up each day.”

It was a learning process for Walker. For instance, he learned that it is not likely that a whale could swallow a human as their throats are about the size of dinner plate.

But the ultimate purpose of the project was just fun.

“As you can see we have little kids just going crazy over it,” Walker said as the Mayfest visitors checked out his project. “Since we are in Nebraska we don’t get to see whales, and this shows the size of a real whale.”

The project took five rolls of duct tape, 240 feet by 100 feet of black plastic and 16 feet by 100 feet of clear plastic. Walker did his research and calculations to figure out how much material was needed.

The whale ended up 74 feet long with a back fin of 24 feet and each side fin, 16 feet long. The eye is nine inches in diameter and was made by art instructor Dan Wright.

The material had to be measured and laid out each day during the hour the three seniors had to work on it. The first time it was blown up was Friday before Mayfest using a large fan. It was blown up for the first hour of Mayfest, but had to be taken down for the musical program. Much to the delight of the youngsters at Mayfest, the weather conditions were such (no wind) that the whale could be reinflated outside.

The tail was open for the fan inflating it and for kids (and adults) to enter.

“I had fun inside talking about the whale (to the kids),” Walker said.

And what about the future of the whale? It will be folded up and stored, possible to make appearances at other learning occasions.

“It turned out good,” Jake said. “I’m happy with it.”

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