Ranatra Fusca Awards

Problem 1: Escape vroOM
Carroll Middle School Southlake, TX Division II
This team showed incredible creativity and risk-taking by designing and building two unique and innovative propulsion systems entirely from scratch. The first moved the vehicle with a bladeless turbine that rotated at a very high speed, so the vehicle was moved by air! The second was even more creative: an electromagnetic engine with hand-wound copper solenoids that moved a pair of bent nails. These nails were connected to a crank system that precisely timed the electrical pulses that moved the vehicle. The vehicle also utilized a very sophisticated team-created mechanism that launched projectiles. These team members were true creative artists in making something wonderful without using any commercially-manufactured parts. Their solution was the essence of engineering a creative problem solution.
Crestwood Sec. School Mountain Top, PA Division III
Imagine what happens when the lights go out at the museum. This team made their imaginations come to life by re-creating famous works of art appearing to hang in the Louvre. The artworks were so realistic that the judges were astonished when they came to life as costumed team members trying to escape the museum. The judges were also astounded by the realistic replication of Leonardo’s journal, especially the text written in Latin, backwards. Not only was the team’s phenomenal style, storyline and performance highly inventive, but the vehicle design showed risk-taking and creativity. One vehicle was stabilized on two wheels like a gyroscope as it traveled over a bridge forwards and backwards. Another accordion-style vehicle was powered pneumatically that flawlessly completed required tasks. The entire performance was perfectly integrated to make the audience and judges believe that they were also trapped in the museum and rooting for the famous works of art to escape. PHENOMENAL in every aspect!
Problem 2: Odyssey ReOMvention
Collingswood Rec Prog Navy Collingswood, NJ Division III
Your problem is to build a team-created instrument. Why not go big and create a working pipe organ using an air mattress, balloons, straws and PVC pipe?
The innovative and original instrument could make 25 notes. The lowest tones were produced using PVC pipe arranged into a traditional pipe organ. The mid tones used balloon reeds amplified through additional tubes. The highest pitches traveled through drinking straws capped with erasers. The whole device was “powered” by an air mattress that was concealed in a bed used by team members to maintain the pressure. The use of the bed was integrated into the performance without anyone knowing it was fueling the device for the entire 8 minutes. The team showed risk-taking by using the device to produce music and sound effects beyond what was required due to the limited supply of air available and the high potential for loss of air pressure. All of these elements combined beautifully in a stunning display of musical talent and creativity.
Problem 3: Classics… (Name Here): The Musical Production
Speyer Legacy School, New York, NY Division II
Hans Christen Anderson once proclaimed that when words fail, music speaks. Never was that more apparent than with this team’s musical solution. Joy, anger, power, frustration, and sorrow were interpreted through the chords, melodies, and lyrics of team composer Lizzie O’Rourke. From start to finish, the judges were held captive by her guitar skills and team member voices as they delivered this 100% original score to interpret the life and struggles of Dr. Edward Jenner, the creator of the vaccine. The duet between Dr. Jenner and a skeptical mother generated tension and resolve through simultaneously layered melodies that climaxed at a peak dynamic level before transitioning into a sobering ballad. The room was completely silent as the ghost of the child sang to his skeptical mother. This melancholy moment was ironically captured through a major key, a huge risk as most composers choose minor keys and chords for sad moments. Lizzie made this risk work by melding the risky key with softer dynamics and flawless guitar technique. We witnessed nothing more emotional than this performance. The most impressive aspect is not that this music was composed by a middle school student, but that it was composed by a middle school student in just 4 days! However, a song is nothing without performers to bring it life. This creative musical production was truly a team effort.
Problem 4: Matryoshka Structure
Seneca Intermediate School Seneca, New York Division II
Judges could not BEE-lieve the detailed workmanship, risk-taking and attention to detail in this team’s solution. The audience was enchanted by the story of squirrels battling bees. The team built a magnificent beehive in a tree that showed ambitious design and workmanship. The sheer size and multiple functions were tricky to implement and the visual details were stunning. It also functioned as a working scale weighing the pollen from the bees and the nuts from the squirrels. It showed risk-taking because it had to be assembled once time started. There was also an inventive moth costume whose wings floated with no apparent movement by the team member thanks to creative engineering by the team. The varied use of materials used throughout the performance was inventive and convincing, even the membership sign captured the judges’ attention. It looked like a real honeycomb, but upon closer inspection it was made out of tongue depressors and had a motor that made it look like there were bees magically floating around it.
Central High School A Grand Rapids, MI Division III
This team wowed the judges with its exceptionally creative solution. The theme for this year’s performance was “storage,” and the team members chose “DNA,” which took the concept of storage in a unique and surprising direction. Using that theme they crafted an amazing 8-minute musical theater performance about Rosalind Franklin, a scientist that helped discover DNA. The audience was drawn into Franklin’s world, her work, and the struggles she faced as a woman scientist through several periods in her life, all set to original songs sung masterfully by the team. The weight placement portion of the skit was also creatively tied in, as a metaphorical representation of the pressures and oppression she faced. On top of all that, the set was amazingly detailed, consisting of 3 triangular columns that rotated to show three different fascinating scenes. It was an exceptionally creative, masterly performed solution that was intricately and creatively tied to this year’s storage theme.