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Crochet club 'bombs' Sandburg Middle School

ELMHURST – People driving or walking along St. Charles Road in Elmhurst might notice something different about one of the trees.

On Thursday, Sandburg Middle School's crochet club "bombed" a tree in front of the school, 345 E. St. Charles Road, with their colorful yarn creations.

"They always come in with new ideas and pictures," Sandburg math teacher and crochet club leader Nancy Bensfield said of her students. "One of them came in with the idea for a yarn bombing."

Yarn bombing refers to covering a prominent object in yarn. While graffiti is permanent, yarn will last a long time if left alone and also can be removed.

Bensfield started the crochet club about 3.5 years ago after reading an article about the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Project at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. A math teacher and a crocheter, herself, Bensfield knew it was the perfect opportunity to unite two of her passions.

"These are hyperbolic shapes," she said. Bensfield explains that creating many elements in a coral reef requires math elements, working in three-dimensional space rather than two.

Last year, the Elmhurst Historical Museum featured the coral reef Sandburg students crocheted. It's now on display in their school.

"It's been really fun with the students because they're just so excited," Bensfield said.

Students worked for months preparing the large pieces they wrapped around the tree on Thursday. And they put their math skills to work, too, while measuring the circumference of the tree trunk for a proper fit.

"Just about everybody can make something that can go into these pieces," Bensfield added.

Part of the appeal of the crochet club is that it requires no previous experience. While this year the club of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders is comprised of all girls, Bensfield said there have been male club members in the past and they're more than welcome to join.

"The biggest thing is that the students are just really supportive of each other," she said. "They were so excited to create something unusual that hasn't been done before."

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