Young inventors win rubber band contest


Zack Tarle

"Spyder," a board game based on shooting marbles, and "Hooves High," an invention inspired by the obstacles of horse training, won the Fifth Annual Rubber Band Contest for Young Inventors, hosted by UA's Akron Global Polymer Academy. Both inventors received $2,500.

More than 600 students from 24 states, including Hawaii, entered the rubber band contest. This competition encourages students in grades 5-8 to demonstrate their creativity by constructing inventions that incorporate rubber bands. Participants enter either the Science and Engineering or the Arts and Leisure division.

Zack Tarle invented a board game based on shooting marbles.

Zack Tarle of Akron, inventor of "Spyder," earned first place in the contest's Arts and Leisure division. The game features four rubber band walls from which players shoot marbles.

"Spyder is a very flexible game," Tarle mentions in his essay about his invention. "There are many different ways to play … from easy to advanced."

"This blew me away. I would buy this game if it were marketed. Very genius!" noted photographer Samantha Solan, a competition judge.

"Hooves High," invented by Emma Studer of Bloomville, Ohio, won first place in the contest's Science and Engineering division. As a horse trainer, Studer faces challenges in teaching horses to lift their feet over wooden boards, which consistently need to be reset. "Hooves High" eliminates the tedious task of putting the board back in place by enabling it to reset with rubber bands.

Emma Studer

"As a result, the trainer can spend more time training and teaching the horse instead of using time to reset the board," says Studer.

"[This invention displays a] great understanding of engineering design and testing of the prototype," commented judge Heidi Cressman, director of Women in Engineering at UA.

The runner-up of the Arts and Leisure division was "Stretcherella," created by Katylin Sweeney of Cincinnati. The runner-up of the Science and Engineering division was "The E-Z Baby Saver," invented by Andrew Pelham of Brentwood, Tenn. Both participants received $500.

Emma Studer eliminated a tedious part of horse training with "Hooves High," which helps horses learn to step over boards.

The four winners were selected from a group of 12 finalists who each received $50, including:

Arts and Leisure finalists:

  • "Rubber Band American Flag" – Devin Rankin, Tallahassee, Fla.
  • "The Ferris Wheel" Austin Banks, Kent, Ohio
  • "Stop and Watch the Flowers Bloom" – Sophia Heller, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • "Life" – Layla Fistos, Tallahassee, Fla.

Science and Engineering finalists:

  • "Antisquirrel Rubber Band Bird Feeder" – John Mohler, Radnor, Pa.
  • "Dog Operational Ball Thrower" – Timothy Morton, Concord Township, Ohio
  • "Foot Flush" – Cole Miller, Tallahassee, Fla.
  • "Chore-O-Matic 2000" –Natalie Winstead, Brook Park, Ohio

Visit the Rubber Band Contest online to see pictures of this year’s winning inventions and to learn more about next year’s contest.

 Story by Tyeal Howell

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