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Future engineers show off their inventions - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Future engineers show off their inventions

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Edible race cars and other contraptions filled this Vermont Air National Guard hanger Thursday.

"I am really excited," said Charlie Bernicke, a student at the Shelburne Community School.

So, too, did hundreds of kids from across the state who turned out to test their engineering skills.

"We were attempting to build a passive helicopter," said Colin Lach, a student at the Shelburne Community School.

The series of contests were part of the University of Vermont's Engineers Day aimed at getting kids engaged in high-tech trades.

A team of eighth-graders from the Shelburne Community School took the top prize in the helicopter drop.

"We got wooden dowels and then tissue paper for kind of the propellers," Bernicke said.

"We knew it had to be tilted to turn and we wanted it to be as light as possible, so it's really slow," Lach said.

The boys weren't the only ones to win big! An all-girls team from the Arlington Memorial Middle School came in first for building a wind turbine designed to lift weights.

"We were the fastest to set it up and raise the one kilogram weight," said Katie Berger, a member of the Arlington Memorial Middle School team.

The four-person squad trained after school and hit the road before the sun came up to show their skills.

"It's just exciting that we are not relying on men and we can do it," Berger said.

Dan Hack of Stellar Lasers has been volunteering as an event judge for six years and says getting kids excited in engineering from a young age is key.

"We're hoping that they learn that engineering can be fun, that they learn that from design and doing things wrong and doing things right that they learn that they can improve everything that they see around them," Hack said.

An exciting challenge many of these students say they're ready to take on.

"Engineering solves a lot of problems," Berger said. "So, the more people the industry can get solving those problems, the better."

In total, kids took home prizes in eight different competitions.

Other challenges included building towers and bridges out of pasta that could hold varying amounts of weight.

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