"I like watching everyone compete," said Josh Klings, 14, while waiting his turn. "It's just so much fun."
And fun is why teacher Richard Walbridge has continued to host the event since the school opened in 1995. Every year, students from his science class compete with each other and this year students from Adams Middle School have joined them.
"I would say the one thing that is most important for me is that students come away having a lot of fun," said Walbridge, "and it cultivates patience. It teaches them that if they take the time and have some patience, they can build something that works well."
The most anticipated event was the penny plane competition, in which students launched balsa wood models weighing as little as the coin. Like poetry in motion, the creations glided through the air by a wound up rubber band motor.
Photos by Beth Allen
Zack Wiley, 14, operates a carbon dioxide car race made by students from Bristow and Adams Middle schools.
Although tough to build, the outcome was pleasing.
"My son worked many hours after school to build the plane," said Kim Plowman as she watched her son Bradly, 13, compete. "Walbridge is fabulous with the kids, and the science fair is great."
"I remember doing this when I was in eighth grade," said Shelby, 17, his sister. "I had a lot of fun in the class and I still talk about him."
"Walbridge is so cool because he knows a lot," said Michael Whalen, 13, while also waiting. "If you ask me, he is a fun guy. Making the planes was really hard, but all that hard work is just for fun."
Other competitions included a car race fueled by carbon dioxide, and a bridge demolition.
"We went from a science fair of projects made with backboards to projects students and parents could build together," said Walbridge. "Now we have five or six events every year. I enjoy watching students get thrilled about building something that works."
But while some students earned medals for their working machines, the real prize for all participants was keeping the motorized creations.
"We are trying to give students the idea that what they learn in the classroom they can apply toward something they can make or built," said Walbridge. "Now, that's fun."
"It's a great example of how you can make learning fun," said Principal Sara Branstetter, "and that's what it is all about."