Last updated: February 16. 2013 2:25AM - 227 Views

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Note: This is a corrected version of a story that ran in the March 25 edition of The Dallas Post.

The crunching sound of metallic foil moving in all directions marked the first-ever Family Science Challenge at Wycallis Elementary on March 8.

Seventy-three families, or 295 people, raced to see who could plan and create a float that could hold the most pennies using aluminum foil and plastic straws in an hour.

Nicole Valkenburg, fourth-grade teacher and elementary science coordinator, found information about the program through the National Science Teachers Association and contacted the founding teacher to see how to get started.

??It was an article about doing something like this with a class, something simple,? she said. ??I brought it up to the Parent-Teacher Organization president to do this as a family event and I was shocked by the response ?? 20 families wanted to participate by then.?

The project was kept a secret until the night of the event, and families chatted nervously in anticipation for the task at hand.

Diane Pocono, of Shavertown, worked with her two daughters and husband on the simple science project.

??I think this was a great idea ?? what a turn out,? she said of the crowded cafeteria.

She said 9-year-old Shelby raced home with the permission slip in hand and begged her mother to participate.

??I love science and I love creating stuff,? said Shelby Pocono.

The Nelson family??s float heavily depended on the skills of Marcia, the Nelson boys?? grandmother, during the event. She struggled to twist the foil around the straws as young Dominic Nelson Palmatier looked on.

??She cooks at home and uses a lot of aluminum foil, so I thought she would be good at this,? joked Marcia Nelson??s husband, George. ??I expect to win.?

Leigh McGlynn, of Shavertown, took her son Casey to the science challenge not expecting to win, but to spend more time together.

??We don??t get to do things like this too often,? said McGlynn. ??It??s nice to have new activities and to have fun.?

The Redmond family quickly got to work once the instructions were revealed. Bob Redmond toyed with the straws as his children, Samantha and R.J., drew up plans for their float.

??It??s about buoyancy and weight distribution, but I won??t say anything else,? said Bob Redmond as he kept his plans secret.

Tracie Redmond, the matriarch of the family, was the brains of the operation while her husband was the brawn.

??My husband loves this ?? he loves any type of challenge,? she said.

Wycallis principal Dr. Paul Reinert walked around the cafeteria, observing families?? projects.

??This helps the parents understand what engaging learning is all about,? he said. ??This is a great use of the community building and kids get to spend time with their parents. It??s great stuff.?

Valkenburg hopes it will become an annual event.

??In this bad economy, it??s nice to have free things like this to do,? she said.

Challenge winners

First place - Nelson Family, 203 pennies

Second place - Motley Family, 131 pennies

Third place - Sutzko Family, 112 pennies

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