Students from across all of the local school districts packed the Georgia Northwestern Technical College Aviation program hangar at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport on Saturday for the fifth Cardboard Challenge sponsored by the Rome-Floyd County Communities in Schools program. Their imaginations ranged from building a flying rover craft to constructing vending and pinball machines.

Gregory Wooten, executive director of the Communities in Schools program, said the project implements the STEAM concept: science, technology, engineering, art and math. It’s a competitive event with medals awarded to the top three projects judged across different age groups and categories.

Materials used have to be 100% recyclable materials ranging from cardboard to paper to plastic bottles or cans. Students compete in the categories of Art, Arcade Games, and Designer’s Choice to find out who can make the best robot, spaceship or building.

While many of the projects were entered in the Pre-Build category, meaning they worked on their projects in school before hand, the event also included an On-Site Challenge where all of the materials were provided and the youngsters were given a specific amount of time to come up with an idea and execute it.

Wooten said participation has leveled off the last couple of years, but the GNTC Aviation hangar was full of kids, families and friends.

Isaac Agan and Ryan Strickland from Armuchee Middle School worked on a Rover craft which they hoped would fly when it came time to be judged.

“Probably not. I wish, but probably not,” Agan said.

Leticia Juan-Esteban and Emily Thrift from West End Elementary School decided to build something similar to a pinball machine where players could win candy.

Kadey Clonts, Audrey Loveman, Austin Lanier and Bria Rocke from East Central built a vending machine.

“You get tickets from another group, enter the tickets in the machine and shake whatever bars in the machine and the candy drops,” Loveman said. Clonts explained that they chose to build a vending machine because they all knew they loved food and liked to eat a lot. Lanier said his favorite food from a vending machine is probably potato chips.