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Students compete to build the strongest structures, tallest towers and more.

Vexing engineering problems did not dampen the enthusiasm of Chocachatti Elementary third-graders as they tested their balloon-powered go-carts. When science resource teacher Ruth Markham asked them if they'd like to try designing again, the response was a lively "Yes!"

Kindergarteners through fifth-graders were assigned various building projects for a special engineering event to mark National Lab Day on May 4. Each classroom determined its best-working project and those competed in front of all that grade level's classes.

Kindergarteners built towers using plastic cups, paper cups and manila folders for their goal of making the tallest standing tower. They worked in teams. The winners were Rocco Orlando and Lailah Evans from Stacy Kissinger's class.

First-graders made boats out of aluminum foil. They were tested by placing marbles in them, with the one holding the most marbles winning. That was created by Cole Glidden in Lisa VanCleave's class. Cole's boat held 109 marbles.

The second-grade classes made paper airplanes. The one that flew the farthest was the winner. This competition ended in a tie. Robert Burgas from Vicki Piccinich's class and Daniel Pecona from Susan Viola's class, both flew their paper planes 650 centimeters (about 211/3 feet).

In third grade, the children used pasta wheels, pipe cleaners, straws, manila folders, tape and balloons to make the go-cart racers. The resulting designs slipped, toppled, spun and became airborne. The one that moved the farthest on the ground was made by Erianna Raganas and Beatrice Roseus, who are in Silvina Doherty's class. The girls' car went 92 centimeters (about 3 feet).

Fourth-graders made catapults to lob marshmallows. They used paint stirrers, cups and connect cubes. The students whose marshmallows flew the farthest were Austin Thomas and Dylon Palmer, members of Eric Tyree's class. They launched their marshmallow 749 centimeters (about 241/2 feet).

The fifth-graders competed to see who could make the strongest structures using plastic foam bowls, paper cups, tagboard and tape. The structures were tested by piling dictionaries on them. The strongest structure was designed and built by Madison Daniels and Caitlin Navarrete from Sheila McNamara's class. Their structure held 35 dictionaries, totaling 38,500 grams (almost 85 pounds).