by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: ROBIN JOHNSON - Kenna Remmers's robotic hand could grip a football and softball, but couldn't quite grab a pencil or make a peace sign. Students from Otto Petersen Elementary presented projects at the school's science fair April 10.

Fifteen of the students received young scientist awards for their exceptional projects.

Students were judged by 32 community members who spent the whole afternoon closely inspecting projects, said Teacher Sherri Leeper.

Leeper said that this was the first time any engineering design projects had been presented at the science fair.

One of these students was Denver Backus, who compared the strength of various bridge designs. Backus constructed an arch bridge, a cable bridge, and a beam bridge out of pop-sickle sticks, glue and fishing line. The arch bridge was the strongest of the three, holding 80 lbs without breaking.

The students' projects ran a wide gamut.

Theresa Hay, fifth grade, tested a variety of absorbent products in oil order to find out what would be most helpful in cleaning up massive oil spills. Dog hair proved effective, but not as much as oil-absorbent polymer or the oil mat—which absorbed mostly oil and no water.

Kenna Remmers, fourth grade, built a robotic hand that was able to hold a softball and a football when Remmers pulled on levers attached to the mechanical hand.

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