March 31, 2002 11:00 pm

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

The La Grande Public Library may someday be a parachute testing site.

That is if some of the dreams of 16 children in the La Grande School District are realized.

Students at Greenwood, Riveria, Willow and Island City elementary schools are developing designs for what they would like the next Think Link Discovery Center to look like.

The children are creating designs for Think Link if it is moved into the La Grande Public Library building. The library building, 1006 Penn St., may later be vacated since the city is considering moving the library to a new site.

Think Link Discovery Center leaders are interested in the library building because of the additional space it offers, said Kathy Davis, Think Links director.

Davis has helped start a program in which teams of students from four elementary schools are developing plans for Think Link if it moves into the library building.

Each team will come up with a visual representation of what they would want the center to look like. One design will be selected as the winner. The members of the winning team will receive one-year family memberships to Think Link.

Davis said one child told her he would like the librarys elevator shaft to remain in place because the elevator shaft could be used for things like parachute and egg dropping experiments. Other children want a portion of the buildings space to be devoted to animal exhibits.

It (the project) has spurred their imaginations, Davis said.

The students recently measured portions of the library to help them develop their plans. Each of the four teams measured one section of the library. The Think Link design project is meant to help children use higher level math skills, Davis said.

Students are also required to look up information on two of the top 10 discovery museums in the country to get ideas about what they can put in their designs. Discovery museums are not traditional in the sense that there are stand-alone exhibits. They are hands-on activity museums in which visitors explore, discover and create.

Davis and Betty Palmer, the coordinator of the Talented and Gifted Program in the La Grande School District, are in charge of the project.

The teachers leading the teams are Craig Lankford of Greenwood, Jacque Barthel-Hines of Island City Elementary, and Nancy Moore, Taunya Barnett and Klel Carson of Riveria.

The teams are also being helped by parent volunteers.

Students in grades 4-6 are on the teams, but most are fifth- and sixth-graders.

Davis said that there is no guarantee that Think Link will be moved to the library if it is vacated. The primary reason is that the cost might be too great. She said, though, that at some point Think Link will be moving into a larger building.

This project gives students a chance to help direct Think Links future.

Given larger space what could Think Link become? Davis said.