Recylable transportation

A sudden shove sent the boxy black and grey vehicle with the "007" logo rolling down the sloping second-floor hallway at L.A. Matheson Secondary School in Surrey.

Its rider, a wide-eyed Shannon Karan, let out an involuntary yelp of surprise, grabbing the cardboard sides for support.

The rest of the design team, Rajan Sohi, Daljit Bagri and Amarpreet Johal, watched intently, cheering as their vehicle rumbled to an uneventful stop past the finish line.

It wasn't the prettiest of the hand-built vehicles that made a test run that afternoon, but it was the fastest.

The Grade 11 students who created it had opted for a relentlessly functional lightweight design, then chose Karan, the smallest member of the team, to be the rider to ensure a fast run.

The sweetest-looking ride of the day was the "K 4" (or "Krazy 4" after the four-man team), an aerodynamic formula-one look-alike with front and rear rear spoilers, large fat rear wheels and an elaborate suspension that wasn't quite as fast as it looked.

Very much a "guy" sort of vehicle, it represented long hours of work by Sartaj Gill, Gursimran Panesar, Parry Attri and Jaspal Thind.

"We wanted a cool-looking car," Gill explained.

And to give it its due, the sleek K 4 handled better than its rivals, travelling in a straight line -- unlike the 007 which displayed a tendency to drift to the left and narrowly missed a student videographer who thought he'd placed his tripod at a safe distance.

The most original design to make a run was a sturdy low-slung red and yellow model that looked a bit like a footstool with a large rear wheel and smaller front wheels, all propelled by a clever rope drive arrangement.

It didn't have a name, but most people were calling it the "yo-yo" car.

It was the work of Gursimaran Singh with Sonika Prakash and Arieza Liwanag, inspired by a yo-yo belonging to Singh's younger brother.

"I had to find a way to wrap the rope around the car so that it doesn't tangle," she explained.

"It was really difficult to do."

Technically, students are only allowed to use string, not rope, but Singh was able to weave her own from string, thanks to her father.

When she was little and had chicken pox, her dad taught her how to make rope to keep her from scratching.

Teacher Stacey Joyce yelled and cheered with the students as the cardboard cars made their runs.

She said the exercise gave her pupils a chance to apply science to real-world circumstances.

All the students get are two wooden axles.

They have to construct the rest of the car with cardboard, water-soluble glue and paper-backed tape.

"So that means that duct tape is right out, any sort of epoxy is right out," Joyce said.

Wheels and floorboards, bumpers and spoilers were built by layering dozens of layers of scrounged cardboard together with glue.

In all, about 20 cardboard cars were built by the students.

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