Kids learn importance of wood

Published 5:00 am Friday, October 8, 2004

Did you know that you are using wood products just by brushingyour teeth or washing your hair?

Fourth-grade students from several counties learned that andother important uses of wood during the “Wood Magic Science Fair”event Wednesday and Thursday at the Multi-Purpose Building on BeltLine Drive.

The presentation by the Mississippi State Extension ServiceForestry Department hosted 800 fourth graders over the two daysfrom Lincoln, Lawrence and Franklin counties, as well as Wesson andhome-schooled children.

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The presentation showed the children the many different uses forwood products, and also demonstrated the processes of making someof the products.

“It’s an educational show to teach kids the importance of woodand how much we use it in our daily lives,” said extension serviceemployee Trey DeLoach. He and Britton Hatcher, also of theextension service, presented Thursday’s program.

During the program, Hatcher stood behind a table stacked withhousehold items and described a typical day in which the kids wouldcome into contact with wood products. Some students were surprisedby products which unexpectedly were linked to wood, from toothpasteand shampoo, which use wood to retain thickness, to householdcleaners and diapers.

“Each person uses about six pounds of wood a day,” explainedHatcher to the students, adding that most is used for fuels. “Welive in a wood-rich country where it’s readily available. We arefortunate to live where we can use a renewable resource.”

Hatcher explained the importance of reforestation, and told thestudents that for every tree that is cut down, five saplings areplanted in its place.

“It’s important to stress to (the students) that this is arenewable resource,” DeLoach said. “We cut trees and replant treesso we’ll keep having this resource.”

DeLoach demonstrated, to the students’ amusement, the process ofmaking plywood. He demonstrated with a volunteer, Sidney Smith ofBrookhaven Elementary, how to put thin sheets of wood together -sandwiching it with 10,000 pounds of heated pressure – to make ablock of plywood.

The children also participated in a tree-fruit identifying gameand witnessed the strength testing of wood.

The program’s finale was a “magic trick” demonstrating how aircan be blown through an apparent solid board of wood. Theinstructors explained that red oak has hollow vessels which allowfor air to pass through one end to the other, while the vessels inwhite oak are clogged.

The students cheered for their fourth-grade teachers as theywere brought on stage and given sticks of red oak that they were touse to blow bubbles with bubble solution.

The extension service presents the science fair to children allover the state. The local production was sponsored by the Lincolnand Lawrence county forestry associations and the Lincoln CountyBoard of Supervisors.

“We do this mostly just to teach the younger generation theimportance of forestry. In this part of the state especially,forestry is an important part of the economy,” said BennieHutchins, president of the Lincoln County Forestry Association.

“It makes them realize how important (wood) is,” he said.

Hutchins said as many as 500 local jobs are depend in some wayon forestry, with many of those found at Georgia Pacific’s papermill in Monticello.

Before the program, Johnnie Carlisle of Georgia Pacific’sMonticello mill presented a $10,000 check to the extension servicerepresentatives. Carlisle said Georgia Pacific is a major sponsorof the statewide program and presents funding to support it eachyear.