Einstein Science Reporting for Kids
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Contact: Denise Henry
University of Akron

Elastic young minds extend uses of rubber bands

Rubber band contest winning inventions include music box and baseball cannon

David Cohen’s first-place-winning “Progammable Music Box,” which uses rubber bands, plucked on a rotating wheel, to make music.

Young inventors stretched their minds and rubber bands to make music, launch baseballs and split Oreos in the Sixth Annual Rubber Band Contest for Young Inventors.

More than 380 students from 25 states entered the contest, hosted by The University of Akron's Akron Global Polymer Academy (AGPA). The competition encourages students in grades 5 to 8 to demonstrate their creativity by building inventions that incorporate rubber bands. Participants enter either the arts and leisure or science and engineering division.

David Cohen, a seventh-grade student from Dallas, Texas, won first place in the contest's arts and leisure division with his "Programmable Music Box," a device where rubber bands are used as melodious musical strings. The rubber bands are twisted, pegged to a wheel and amplifier, and plucked as the wheel rotates.

"The music box can be programmed by adjusting the amount of twisting [of each rubber band], so that a short melody can be played when the wheel is rotated," Cohen writes in his essay about the invention. "The more the rubber bands are twisted, the lower the pitch, since the string becomes thicker. This device can help teach physics in a fun and interactive way."

Sammy DiTirro, an eighth-grader from Rootstown, Ohio, won first place in the science and engineering division for his "Baseball Cannon." The device provides "an easy way of throwing pop-flies during [baseball] practice," he says, and is also "useful to people with a physical disability that may not be able to throw a ball."

"When you pull back the handle, tension builds up in the jumbo rubber bands, and when the handle is released, so is the energy stored in the rubber bands, making the baseball fly," he writes in his essay.

Paul Gensbigler, a sixth-grader from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, was named runner-up of the arts and leisure division for his "The Rubber Band Night," an imitation painting of Van Gogh's Starry Night. Gensbigler painted on rubber bands and attempted to "copy the swirls and movement of [Van Gogh's] painting," he notes in his essay.

Lawson Gray, an eighth-grader from Cumming, Georgia, was named runner-up of the science and engineering division for his invention called "Oreo-crème Splitter 2014," which uses rubber band-powered razor blades to split the cookie from its crème center.


Visit http://rubberbandcontest.org/ to see pictures of this year's winning inventions and to learn more about next year's contest.

The AGPA assists UA's College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering in creating and disseminating knowledge about polymer science, polymer engineering, and STEM education by supporting initiatives in P-16 education and other distributive education ventures. For more information visit http://www.agpa.uakron.edu/.