Youths achieve towering feats at Imagination Station event

Paper-and-tape designs battled fan, held baseball

2/19/2013
BY KATE GIAMMARISE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Sylvania siblings Chloe, 4, Jadon, 10 and Caelyn, 7, Thompson keep their fingers crossed, hoping their ball on top of their paper tower won't be blown off by a large fan. The Thompsons participated in the Paper Tower Engineering Challenge at the Imagination Station in Toledo on Monday.
Sylvania siblings Chloe, 4, Jadon, 10 and Caelyn, 7, Thompson keep their fingers crossed, hoping their ball on top of their paper tower won't be blown off by a large fan. The Thompsons participated in the Paper Tower Engineering Challenge at the Imagination Station in Toledo on Monday.

What's black and white and holds a baseball in front of a fan?

A tower made of newspapers, of course.

As part of National Engineers Week, youngsters at Imagination Station competed Monday to build towers constructed solely from old newspapers and masking tape. The structures had to be at least 18 inches tall and be able to support the weight of a baseball.

“You have to have a good base,” said Alex Clark, 12, of Manchester, Mich., describing his strategy for a winning entry in the engineering challenge.

Iliana Calcamuggio, 8, said she aimed to fashion a cone-shaped area to hold the baseball. She was aided by her grandmother, Diane Calcamuggio, who described the process as “trial and error.”

The contest meant to teach engineering principles using simple materials and the motto, “think it, built it, test it, do it again,” said Anna Kolin, Imagination Station spokesman.

Once constructed, each tower had to be placed on a table directly in front of a high-powered fan and had to remain standing to be considered eligible for the competition. The ultimate winner was decided by which newspaper-and-tape tower was the lightest.

David Jarvis, 14, and his grandmother Linda Rooks celebrate their baseball staying on their paper tower. Young Jarvis’ paper tower weighted just 0.05 pounds. He said he tried to use less tape.
David Jarvis, 14, and his grandmother Linda Rooks celebrate their baseball staying on their paper tower. Young Jarvis’ paper tower weighted just 0.05 pounds. He said he tried to use less tape.

David Jarvis, 14, worked on creating a minimalist teepee-shaped design that weighed a mere 0.05 pounds.

“I just used less tape,” he said.

Many of the winning entries took a similar shape.

Nagib Burkett, 17, said his goal was, “Make it look like the Eiffel Tower ... [to] make it as light as possible.” Nagib said he hopes to attend the University of Toledo’s mechanical engineering program.

The lightest tower that supported a baseball’s weight and stood up to the fan weighed in at a feather-light 0.01 pounds.

The Blade donated the papers used in the event.

Contact Kate Giammarise at: kgiammarise@theblade.com or 419-724-6091, or on Twitter @KateGiammarise.