What does a tub of water, a board covered with balloons and ping pong balls have in common?

They're all a part of Dickinson Middle School's toy expo. Sixth-grade students showcased their creativity and understanding of potential and kinetic energy by creating toys out of everyday objects, advertising them and demonstrating them to their families and community members.

Science teachers Allison Grosz, Damian Sobolik and Heidi Derosier facilitated the construction of the projects in their classrooms.

“We supplied them with a few things, and they researched how to create a potential energy toy or game all on their own. They were placed in group, and they figured out how to build them,” Grosz said.

Students created toys such as crossbows, pool tables, Plinko and foosball tables to apply what they had learned about energy.

“We were learning about potential and kinetic energy and how potential energy can turn into kinetic energy this week, so they had to focus on a toy that could show that," Grosz said. "You can see potential energy as energy that is stored, ready to happen. Kinetic energy is energy in motion, so taking that potential and changing it into something that moves.”

Students Hailey Proctor and Schayla Hanese created a balloon-powered boat.

"We cut two water bottles in half (on the bottom) to keep it afloat so it holds air underneath it to hold it up," Hailey said.

The boat was powered by three balloons. Before they float it, Schayla blows up the balloons through the attached straws.

"Before we let it go, it has the potential energy to move, which is the air inside the balloon. When we let it go, and the air comes out the back end, it pushes on the water to produce kinetic energy, and that's what makes it move."

Although this is the first year of the expo, Sobolik said their students made toys last year, too.

"Last year, we did a Shark Tank where the kids had to sell their toys. We had three people sitting in the classroom and they had to sell the toys to us. This year, I know parents want to see what their kids are doing, so we thought, well, let’s open it up to the public and have kids come in and check it out," he said.

Parents who visited had the chance to play with the toys and vote for the one they thought would be the best-seller.

Sobolik said they plan to do the project again next year, possibly incorporating more subject areas.

"We want to get the ingenuity — the STEM part of it — but we also want to get the other aspects of education. We want persuasive writing. They've got to practice their marketing ... Maybe next year we'll add cost of supplies, so maybe add math in there too," he said.