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Barrel bones to boost STEM education for girls


After they’ve been drained of their liquid gold, Painted Stave Distilling is using its barrels to raise money for charity later this fall.

Up to 32 planks of wood called staves make up the barrels that cradle the distillery's whiskey and other spirits for months or years.


After they’re emptied, co-owners Mike Rasmussen and Ron Gomes hand out staves to local artists to paint, whittle, or manipulate in any way they see fit - then auction them off.


Rasmussen’s favorite this year is a deconstructed stave with magnets drilled into each of the 34 pieces.


“You can literally take it and reposition it in any way that you’d like to sort of create a diagram or picture that speaks to you,” he said.

Other pieces include a mini barrel deconstructed into light fixtures and a metallic chameleon climbing a stave, among many others.

Proceeds from the auction go to the Delaware AeroSpace Education Foundation (DASEF) to support STEM education for girls in Delaware.


“Seeing more young women – and this would be true of minorities as well – having them engaged in science can really only bring more creative thinking, a new and different perspective to it,” Rasmussen said.


Both he and Gomes have daughters who they want exposed to science – a field where women and other minorities are typically underrepresented.


According to the National Science Board, women make up half of college-educated workers in the U.S., but only account for 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce.


“That’s bad. If we want science to be as game changing as it can be, we need as many people to be represented in that community and in that field as possible,” Rasmussen said.


Last year, Painted Stave raised $1,700 for the DASEF. The staves will be on display until the 3rd annual charity auction November 12.

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