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Cambridge Students Converge on Institute for City Days

By Brett Altschul
staff reporter

Today in Kresge Oval, about 470 students from grades three through six from all 15 of Cambridge's public elementary schools will assemble for the fifth annual City Days Festival.

About 600 MIT students - roughly 75 percent of them freshmen - from 35 living groups will assist with the event, leading elementary student groups around campus and organizing activities, said Tracy F. Purinton, senior office assistant in the Public Service Center and the event's coordinator.

This marks the first year that third graders were included in the event, Purinton said. She said that they were added because the number of MIT students participating in City Days had increased.

"It's become more and more of an expected event during" Residence and Orientation Week, she said. "Many fraternities and independent living groups are now making it a required activity for their pledges."

Events focus on education and fun

The events this year focus both on education and enjoyment, Purinton said. "We try to set up activities that teach them skills they can apply later on."

In the traditional egg-drop activity, children will design packages for eggs, aiming to keep them from breaking after being dropped, Purinton said.

In other activities, students will construct primitive helicopters, make pinhole cameras, and build bridges that will hold the greatest possible weight, Purinton said. There are also more pure fun activities, like a water balloon toss and a no-hands-allowed jello-eating race, she said.

At the opening of the event, President Charles M. Vest and Cambridge Vice-Mayor Kathleen L. Born MArch '77 will address participants.

Purinton said that City Days is an event important to the building of good relations between MIT and the local community. "It helps incoming MIT students to realize they're part of a larger community than MIT," she said.

"It kicks off the PSC's Links program, where we send students into the public schools on a weekly basis," she said. "It helps build up familiarity for both the elementary school students and the MIT people."

It has also helped relations between groups within MIT, Purinton said. Groups that have traditionally had disagreements have scheduled events together to help smooth over past enmity, she said.