Ideas spring from young inventors' minds in rubber band contest


David Cohen, a seventh-grade student from Dallas, Texas, won first place in the Arts and Leisure Division of the Sixth Annual Rubber Band Contest for Young Inventors. 

In the Science and Engineering Division of the competition, the winner was Sammy DiTirro, an eighth-grader from Rootstown, Ohio.

More than 380 students from 25 states entered the contest, hosted by The University of Akron’s Akron Global Polymer Academy (AGPA). The competition encourages students in grades 5 to 8 to demonstrate their creativity by building inventions that incorporate rubber bands. Participants enter either the arts and leisure or science and engineering division.

Music box

Cohen won with his “Programmable Music Box,” a device in which rubber bands are used as melodious musical strings. The rubber bands are twisted, pegged to a wheel and amplifier, and plucked as the wheel rotates.

“The music box can be programmed by adjusting the amount of twisting [of each rubber band], so that a short melody can be played when the wheel is rotated,” Cohen writes in his essay about the invention. “The more the rubber bands are twisted, the lower the pitch, since the string becomes thicker. This device can help teach physics in a fun and interactive way.”

Baseball cannon

DiTirro won with his “Baseball Cannon.” The device provides “an easy way of throwing pop-flies during [baseball] practice,” he says, and also is “useful to people with a physical disability that may not be able to throw a ball.”

“When you pull back the handle, tension builds up in the jumbo rubber bands, and when the handle is released, so is the energy stored in the rubber bands, making the baseball fly,” he writes in his essay.

Visit to see pictures of this year’s winning inventions and to learn more about next year’s contest.

The AGPA assists UA’s College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering in creating and disseminating knowledge about polymer science, polymer engineering, and STEM education by supporting initiatives in P-16 education and other distributive education ventures.

 More information.


 Story by Nicholas Nussen

Media contact: Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or

The winning inventions

music box

Above: David Cohen’s first-place-winning “Progammable Music Box,” which uses rubber bands, plucked on a rotating wheel, to make music.

David Cohen

Above: Seventh-grade student David Cohen, from Dallas, Texas, won first place in the Arts and Leisure Division for his “Programmable Music Box.”

music box

Above: The "Baseball Cannon," invtented by Sammy DiTirro, an eighth-grader from Rootstown, Ohio. The cannon, which uses jumbo rubber bands to launch baseballs, won first place in the Science and Engineering Division.