Brewer students test tiny weight-bearing structure at UM composites center

Posted April 29, 2011, at 6:39 p.m.
The Kandy Kids, a Destination ImagiNation team of fifth graders from State Street School in Brewer, are state champions and have earned the right to go to DI Globals at the end of May in Tennessee. Pictured are DI teammembers: Abigail Bennett, Ian Coleman, Jacob Coty, Josh Demaso, Jonathan Donnelly, Aubrey Duplissie and Jamie Seymour.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Duplissie
The Kandy Kids, a Destination ImagiNation team of fifth graders from State Street School in Brewer, are state champions and have earned the right to go to DI Globals at the end of May in Tennessee. Pictured are DI teammembers: Abigail Bennett, Ian Coleman, Jacob Coty, Josh Demaso, Jonathan Donnelly, Aubrey Duplissie and Jamie Seymour.

ORONO, Maine — Even before the structure that seven Destination ImagiNation students built out of aluminum foil, balsa wood and glue was tested Thursday at the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, the Brewer pupils noticed a flaw.

“They realized that one of the legs was shorter than the other,” Kevin Duplissie, a parent volunteer, said Friday.

Even so, the approximately 20-gram structure could have easily held a sumo wrestler.

“The structure held 470 pounds yesterday before it broke,” Duplissie said.

The State Street School students, nicknamed the Kandy Kids, are state champions for their “Verses! foiled again!” Destination ImagiNation project, which comprised designing and building a foil, wood and glue structure that can bear weight, and writing and performing a skit about a character who is foiled.

The structure the Kandy Kids built for the state competition April 1 could have held two sumo wrestlers.

“It weighed 20.4 grams and held 605 pounds — 13,000 times its weight,” Duplissie said proudly. “And it didn’t break.”

The DI organizers ran out of weight to put on the structure during the state competition, he said. The original structure was damaged when a weight was removed at the competition, but the students had planned to build a new structure for the upcoming international competitions anyway, Duplissie said. That was the structure the students tested Thursday at UMaine.

The Kandy Kids team is composed of Abigail Bennett, Ian Coleman, Jacob Coty, Josh Demaso, Jonathan Donnelly, Aubrey Duplissie and Jamie Seymour.

As state champions, the fifth-graders earned the right to compete in the Destination ImagiNation Globals, slated for May 25-28 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn.

Destination ImagiNation, formerly known as Odyssey of the Mind, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation located in New Jersey. Its goal is to foster creativity as well as problem-solving skills in young people based on the concept of divergent thinking — understanding that there is more than one way to solve a problem, the DI website states.

Competing at the Global Destination ImagiNation event against teams from all over America, Canada and other countries is an experience the pupils will remember for the rest of their lives, Duplissie said.

Since they started the project, “the self-confidence in these kids has grown remarkably and that is a great thing,” he said.

The Kandy Kids team managers are parent volunteers Deb Demaso and Kay Duplissie, who is married to Kevin Duplissie.

Team leaders and other adults are not allowed to assist the students with their projects; team members must solve issues that come up on their own.

The design of the Kandy Kids’ structure is a secret, but the students wanted to test the strength of it, and what better way to do that than by utilizing testing equipment at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center, which recently won a national award for its “bridge in a backpack” technology?

“This is the same testing equipment that is used by university researchers to test components for bridges, wind blades and other large structures,” UMaine spokesman Joe Carr said in a statement.

The students learned an important lesson Thursday as they watched the legs of the structure bow, and eventually break, Duplissie said.

“Now they’ve gone back to the drawing board and I suspect over the weekend they will be building a new one,” he said.

To go to the international competition, the team must raise about $16,000. The students have raised more than $9,000 but still have a way to go and only a few weeks to do it, Duplissie said. Upcoming  fundraisers include:

  1. 4-6 p.m. May 1, bowling fundraiser at Bangor Brewer Bowling Lanes. Bowling is $5 an hour and participants must say they are with DI when paying.
  2. 5-8 p.m. May 10, Jimmie’s Ice Cream fundraiser. All proceeds to benefit Brewer DI.
  3. 7-9 p.m. May 13, family dance and silent auction at Brewer Middle School gym. The silent auction items include an Old Town kayak, L.L. Bean gift certificate, Margarita’s gift certificate, a horseback riding package, snowshoes, a cosmetics package, bath

and body package, and others.

  1. Mountain bike raffle, with tickets available at the bowling, ice cream and dance fundraisers. The bike was donated by Pat’s Bike shop.
  2. Bottle drive. A donation spot is set up on Parkway North.

Those who would like to help send the Kandy Kids to the Global Destination ImagiNation competition can send donations to Brewer’s State Street School.

For information, contact Debbie Demaso at 989-6691 or Melissa Donnelly at 989-4106.

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