STOW - Third grade students at Highland Elementary School began making rubber band friendship bracelets for friends and other students but have joined forces to create one very long bracelet to break the Guinness Book of World Records of 16 miles in length.

They have a long way to go, but the lessons they have learned include teamwork, organization, encouragement and fun.

Third grade teacher Jennifer McGovern said the bracelet project has been incorporated into different lessons, including the measurement unit and economics unit.

"They ran it down the hall and learned to convert yards to meters and learned what a mile is," McGovern said. 

The students have 20 minutes to work on it Monday mornings and a lunch period on Wednesday, but they take the rubber bands home and put together chains that they hook together in class. The long strands are stored on hose reels.

"They started a school-wide club," McGovern said. "Students from second, third and fourth grade meet at recess and make the bracelets to add to the length."

McGovern is adviser for the club but she keeps hands off.

"It’s the students’ project," she said. "They want to get together during the summer and work on it."

Students communicate through the school’s email system and use birthday or gift money to buy the kits.

Sarah Nester, 9, keeps records of the length of the bracelet. Before Monday’s additions, it was 220 yards long, which equals 7,920 inches, or 660 feet, or 0.125 miles, or 203 meters.

Carsten Kramer, 9, made the first bracelet. He learned from his sister, who learned from a friend. Carsten taught his classmates, who taught others the craft that only requires small round rubber bands.

"You meet new people like second and fourth graders," Carsten said. "We’ll keep doing it until we reach the world record."

Students sometimes work in pairs, working on each end of the chain. To form the chain they slip the last link on two fingers and add a new rubber band before releasing the previous link over it.

"It makes you relaxed and calm," said Aidan Young, 9.

The winter season is a good time for an indoor activity, the students said.

"It’s nice to have our club when it’s cold outside, and we get to stay in on Wednesdays," Sarah said. 

Many of the students continue to work on the bracelets at home.

"I have nothing to do and started making them," said Jackson Kruse, 9. "I make them at home and bring them to school and connect them."

Liv Brown, 9, said she joined when the group began after Christmas break and has two Loom Band Refill kits of colorful rubber bands.

"I enjoy getting to spend time with my friends and make the bracelets with them," Liv said.

McGovern says the students have been empowered by the experience, and it showed in the writing unit. Sarah wrote the Stow Sentry, and a reporter and photographer came to her class. 

"Students don’t always feel they have a voice, but the response has given them confidence to speak," she said.

Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or lfreeman@recordpub.com