Feats of engineering on display at Fairhope Intermediate


The challenge for young engineers at Fairhope Intermediate School was to identify a problem, and, invent a device to fix it.

And boy, did sixth grader ClaraBella Huckleberry have a problem.

Her younger brother constantly complained that he didn’t want to put food in the compost pile.

“It was too stinky,” she said, mimicking his futile grievance.

So, ClaraBella fixed his problem, and, saved everyone else in her family from the nightly grumbles.

“I figured I would just put a tube in it (the compost) so he wouldn’t have to go near it,” she said.

Boom. Problem solved.

And, as a bonus, the audience howled with laughter.

ClaraBella was one of 35 students in the school’s science club who created engineering masterpieces and presented them to the entire school last week.

Their projects ranged from hurricane proof houses to fresh ideas for puppy pooper scoopers.

Fifth grader Fiona McGill built her petroleum storage container out of toothpicks and gum drops. She points out where the fire-proof insulation would be installed if it were life-size and operational. She shows her audience the place where extra containers would guard against spillage from leaky barrels of oil.

It is clear that she can see each detail precisely in her mind as she points to the colorful balls of candy. She pauses to assure the audience that with the proper materials “this would look like something.”

For her instructors, it already does.

“Engineers design things to solve a problem but first they need to know who needs the problem solved and why,” said Nancy Tuttle, head of the school’s science lab.

“Who knows what the next big engineering design will be. It’s up to you,” she said addressing the crowd.