Mission to M.A.R.S. Becomes First Permanent Display at A.J. Read Science Discovery Center

Acrylic sheet donation for an Eagle Scout project shields a Mars display

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Beth Summers
Curbell Plastics, Inc.
716-667-3377 x7439 

Orchard Park, N.Y., July 27, 2021 – Curbell Plastics, Inc., one of the nation’s top suppliers of plastic sheet, rod, tube, tapes, and fabricated parts, made a small but important donation towards a big project. There was just one challenge: the donation was for clear acrylic sheet during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jonathan Deitchman, then a Life Scout, needed to fulfill the Eagle Scout Service Project requirement to apply for Eagle Rank, the highest achievement in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). “This project signified that I learned to be a leader, and worked well with other people, while also doing something to help the community in a fun and interesting way,” Jonathan explained. Interested in STEM, he approached the director of the A.J. Read Science Discovery Center at SUNY Oneonta to ask if his Eagle Scout Project could serve the Center in some capacity, to which the answer was yes.

Jonathan Deitchman proudly displays the sign on his completed Eagle Scout Project.
Jonathan Deitchman proudly displays the sign on his completed Eagle Scout project which thanks volunteers and companies who helped make his vision a reality.

The project, Mission to Modeling an Astronomical Rover Simulation (M.A.R.S.), would be an 8 foot by 10 foot representation of a Martian landscape. The display would serve as a visual and physical sensory experience for young children and act as home base to a fully-functional Mars Rover slated to be developed by another team. “There was a lot of research and development involved,” Jonathan shared. “We had to do a lot of experimentation like, how to get the landscape to look like Mars using foam insulation board, CelluClay®, KidKrete, and paint. We had to test which ratios of ingredients and colors looked best and would be durable enough for a rover and younger kids touching it.” Understanding part of the display would need to be safeguarded to preserve its appearance and functionality, Jonathan specified acrylic sheet as a durable yet transparent shield. However, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was almost impossible to find material in the right size.

Completed Mission to M.A.R.S. Eagle Scout Service Project on display at SUNY Oneonta’s A.J. Read Science Discovery Center. Curbell Plastics donated the acrylic sheet for the display.
The completed Mission to M.A.R.S. Eagle Scout Service Project on permanent display at SUNY Oneonta’s A.J. Read Science Discovery Center.

It was then Curbell Plastics Syracuse Inside Sales Manager Pat Silkey learned about the project. Due to the high demand of large acrylic sheets used as social distance barriers, transparent material options were limited, but that didn’t stop Pat from trying his best to meet Jonathan’s specifications. Christy Deitchman, Jonathan’s mother, recalled Pat’s attention to the durability requirements and the safety of those who would be around the acrylic sheet. “There was a lot of communication back and forth regarding ‘will this size work?’ or ‘how about this thickness?’ to understand what would be solid enough to withstand younger children pushing on it.” Pat delivered the cut-to-size acrylic display shields in person (masked up, of course). “We were blown away by that,” Jonathan’s father, Dr. Jay Deitchman, added, “it meant a lot to us. He was so happy to help.”

Image captured by the functioning Mars Rover in the Mission to M.A.R.S. display. Read full story at Curbell Plastics.
An image captured by the functioning Mars Rover in the Mission to M.A.R.S. display.

After two years and a total of 530.75 recorded project hours, the Mission to M.A.R.S. Eagle Scout Service Project was officially completed and dedicated as the A. J. Read Science Discovery Center’s first permanent display in May of 2021. “I am proud of the work I put into this project and of all the volunteers and companies that helped out, including Curbell Plastics and Mr. Silkey,” Jonathan said as he reflected on the long, research-intensive, and pandemic-interrupted process. “We couldn’t have done it without them.” Congratulations to Jonathan Deitchman who, on July 4, 2021, received his official paperwork as a recognized Eagle Scout with the BSA!

About Curbell Plastics, Inc.

Curbell Plastics grew into one of the nation’s top plastic materials suppliers by investing for the long term and focusing foremost on the needs of its customers — a strategy that has set the company apart since its founding in 1942.

Curbell supplies performance plastics — durable and lightweight materials that minimize energy consumption and add value to countless commercial and industrial applications — to thousands of businesses, entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies. The company also offers plastic film, adhesives, sealants, tapes, prototyping and tooling materials, and fabricated plastic parts. Its innovative services include a nationwide team of material experts to help customers solve engineering and application challenges.

Curbell Plastics, a privately held subsidiary of Curbell, Inc., has 21 locations nationwide and is based in Orchard Park, New York. It has ISO 9001 certification for eight of its locations and its corporate headquarters, and it maintains ITAR and EAR compliance company-wide.