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Camp Provides Lessons Students Can Build On

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RALEIGH — Some middle schoolers are pondering big engineering questions at a new summer camp at N.C. State University.

Future scientists came to Centennial Middle School on Thursday with the task of building towers from some unlikely materials.

The task: Build a one-foot tall structure that is earthquake-proof. The materials: Plaster, JELLO, toothpicks, gum drops and bread.

With a base of either plaster or JELLO, students used their creativity and know-how to build a structurally sound tower.

Some achieved success, while others saw their efforts fall to pieces as instructors shook the projects to simulate an earthquake.

Participants and teammates Sterling Richardson and Virgil Jones had a plan early on.

"We decided to make it wide. The commercials say "Wider is better,'" says Sterling.

This duo had high hopes for their use of marshmallows, but were done in by their base of JELLO.

So if you are going to build, Virgil offers the following advice:

"I learned that you should build things that take time and it should be stable enough. You should test it," he says. It is a little thinking you could build a house on.

The one-week engineering camp is a joint effort between Centennial Middle School and N.C. State.