Science Whiz Kids
by Jourdyn Heilinger, Staff Writer

Does building rockets, constructing potato alarm clocks, and exploring all other fields of science tickle your fancy? If so, then the science fair might be your calling. Time, though, is running out! The deadline for all student entries is December 20. So put down the textbook and sign up today.
Dating back to 2001, this will be the 7th annual Kiwanis Science Fair. On Saturday, February 9th, students will dazzle viewers with their knowledge of the scientific world. The middle school gymnasium will be filled with people ready to learn and students eager to teach from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. Over the years the number of entries has doubled, totaling 147 participants last year. The Kiwanis club is hoping for an even larger turnout this year. With home schooled students joining those from West Geauga high school and middle school and St. Anslem middle school, this expectation will hopefully be met.
“All the individual projects we get each year are just amazing in their creativity, skillful design, and use of good scientific methods,” said Kiwanis member and science fair sponsor, Mr. Ken Mantey. There have been a number of memorable projects over the years. One student created a medieval engine of war, like a catapult, that hurled large stones. The difference between the Trebuchet and a catapult was that this greatly multiplied the throwing force of a hanging weight. This student’s model used a 405lb weight. When he used a tennis ball in his demonstration, it ricocheted off the ceiling, walls, and lights. The student said that he had previously tested it using a billiard ball. Thanks to this young man, all projects now require prior approval.
Another student created an Electro Servo Telephone. The dial from an old rotary telephone was used as an encoder to operate different electronic devices, like turning on a light and ringing a bell. The entire project was built from component electronics.
Last year’s Senior Division entry built a Magnetic Mousetrap Car. Magnets were used to continually give small boosts to the wheels, after initially being propelled forward from the mousetrap. To everyone’s surprise, the car’s run exceeded the length of the gym.
If you are one of the lucky young scientists to place 1st, 2nd or 3rd, a cash prize and a gleaming trophy will be yours. In 2002 a $200 scholarship was awarded and in 2003 a trip to Space Camp was given out. Every year there are cash prizes of $5 to $100. If you don’t place, however, participation alone looks great on a college application or resume.
Participation is greatly encouraged in this and every year’s science fair. Participation takes a lot of effort and time. Because the Kiwanis believe that everyone should have the chance to explore the world of science, they have added new, less time-consuming projects and programs. For those students who have the time over winter break to engage their minds, kit projects are available. All the materials needed to construct mouse trap cars, bridges, and other projects are included. Another option for said students is this year’s computer program. Two weeks before the competition, rules will be given out for a game. Students have until February 9th to design, build, and test their program strategies. The day of the fair individual entries will compete in a double elimination tournament, available for viewers on a big screen.
Last year a new event was added to the program, Junk Box Wars. The inspiration for the new event was the seniors who are crunched for time. No prior building, constructing, or experimenting is necessary. Register before December 20th and show up on February 9th ready to assemble. It turned out to be very popular. Fifteen teams of up to three students were each given identical boxes full of “junk.” They had to build a machine that would complete a given task from the parts they were given. Last year, the winner was the team whose machine was lifted the highest off the floor by the power of a mousetrap. “Each machine was ingeniously designed and built and it was a lot of fun to watch!” exclaimed Mantey.
Every year the competition’s intensity grows with more innovative and exciting projects than the previous. “If you cannot join this year, please come and watch. Audience is encouraged, as it has the contagious effect of wanting to be a part of it the next year,” said the chairman of the Science Fair, Mr. Tom Metzger.
Remember, the deadline for all entries is December 20th.