Wyoming Seminary 6h-graders’ Lego machines built for speed

Last updated: May 09. 2013 11:44PM - 3544 Views
By - mguydish@civitasmedia.com - (570) 991-6112

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FORTY FORT — Rebecca “Becca” Hammerman may end up the next Katie Couric (she assures you without hesitation there is no “may” about it), but Thursday in teacher John Eidam’s science class she was textbook 12-year-old.

“”I’m so excited, guys!” she beamed as she wound up the rubber band-driven car she and Christina Kilyanek had concocted from Lego bricks.

Hammerman lined up her mini speedster with contenders designed by other sixth-grade classmates in the hall outside Eidman’s Wyoming Seminary Lower School classroom as he explained the rules.

“The countdown is three, two, one, RELEASE!” Eidman explained. “It’s like a ‘Lethal Weapon’ movie.”

Ummm … not to quibble, but the last pairing of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in that buddy-cop series was 1998 … two years before any of these kids were born. Well, he is teaching science, not math …

The goal, Eidman explained, was to engineer a vehicle that garnered power from a rubber band in such a way as to cover 5 feet faster than anyone else — Lego drag racing, as it were.

Actually, the students vied in two competitions, the drag race for time, and another in which the car that traveled farthest wins. All students started out with the same Lego kits and rubber bands of equal power. In most cases, they didn’t build two cars, they just re-geared the same vehicle.

Some opted to rebuild from scratch even as the competition commenced. As Kate Barilla and Molly Leahy snapped bricks together, Leahy noted “We built a lunar rover once,” then added: “That was easier. It had a motor.”

In the first drag-race heat, the Hammerman/Kilyanek rig zipped to the finish line more than a length ahead of the next competitor. The next several heats it didn’t fare as well, but a little tweaking of the band-winding method and it not only won with ease, it flipped 180 degrees on the way to victory.

A classmate’s car didn’t fare so well, abruptly hopping and popping a few bricks off before sputtering to a stop well short of the finish.

“The entire car has to go across the line,” Eidman cautioned, “not just parts of it.” And yes, he added as an aside, some students had asked if they could get away with a combination car/catapult.

After her car zipped to victory, a classmate turned to Harriman and asked, “Becca, you just won the Lego race, what are you going to do now?”

No, not Disneyland. Not even close.

“I’m going to Starbucks!” she grinned.

Ah yes, caffeine. The human equivalent of winding up your rubber band for the race …

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