One loop. One hill. Two tunnels.
Using those specifications, teams of fifth-graders from Hillsborough County schools will build a roller coaster in 20 minutes using sparse materials.
Elementary students prepared for more than a month to compete in the Hillsborough County Science Olympics today at the Museum of Science and Industry. Each grade level has different science challenges, but the main event is the fifth-graders' Marble Coaster challenge.
Katelyn Allan, 10, and Samantha DeLeon, 10, fifth-graders at Bay Crest Elementary, have the coaster's design completed and will rely on that to guide them.
Katelyn and Samantha will build their coaster using 1.8 meters of pipe insulation, four paper cups, 300 centimeters of masking tape and a chair.
"We never thought we would win in the beginning," Katelyn said of their preliminary competitions against fellow Bay Crest students. In order to compete Saturday, they had to beat every other fifth-grader at Bay Crest.
Bay Crest teacher Nancy Sague has been in charge of the Science Olympics for six years.
"This is really a culmination of what they have learned so far," Sague said.
In the end, everything depends on the cup at the end of the coaster. After a marble goes through the loop, the hill and the two tunnels, it must hit and push the cup. The team whose cup goes farthest is the winner.
Today is one of two semi-finals, and only a portion of schools are competing. The rest will compete in two weeks, and the semifinal winners will face off in December.
Arielle Stevenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813)-226-3321..