Ryan Schmidt's classmates at Magothy River Middle School lined up Friday to try out the amazing cardboard chair.
Each time the chair, which Schmidt fashioned out of corrugated cardboard discarded by his father's office, held up.
The result impressed everyone. So much so that the three faculty and three student judges of the school's Dr. Gizmo competition awarded it first prize among 12 entries.
Schmidt said he was proud but not surprised by the success of his biodegradeable chair.
"I've learned cardboard is a lot stronger than it looks," the seventh-grader said. "I tried it out as soon as it was finished. At first, I thought it would come out from under me. It's really quite sturdy."
Schmidt's chair and other "environmental gizmos of the future" were on display at Magothy River Middle School's Recycling Fair on Friday.
Part of the school's celebration of Earth Week, the fair included exhibits on recycling, composting and disposal of hazardous wastes.
The first in the county, the fair was organized by the student governmentwith the help of the Annapolis Junior League, a women's service group.
Jeremy Eckman, the seventh-grade chairman of the school's recycling committee, said the pupils began planning three months ago. Whenthey realized it may cost the student government about $100 for T-shirts and other materials, some classmates were skeptical, he said.
"We had a big debate, but the kids need to know about recycling if we are going to get anything accomplished," Eckman said. "It's going to make a lot more money for Mother Earth, if you want to put it that way."
Charles Franklin, who manned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's display, said he came to introduce pupils to the Garbage Gremlin, who resembled a small woman dressed in green shag carpet. The Gremlin -- a villain who wastes -- is the centerpiece of a nationalcampaign to get children excited about recycling, he said.
When the Gremlin entered the gym, pupils crowded around, beating on it playfully and chanting for it to recycle.
"One girl came up and said, 'We've got to keep the Gremlin out of our school,' " Franklin said. "The kids really know so much already. They really are sharp."
The Dr. Gizmo contest, which encouraged sixth- and seventh-graders to build something useful out of household wastes, was judged Wednesday.
"It had to be creative and functional -- and had to be made totally out of recycled materials," Assistant Principal John Corcoran said. "Otherwise, they could do anything they pleased."
Seventh-grader Ashley Thompson captured second place with a transparent skateboard, which he cut from Plexiglas thrown out by a local ice hockey rink.
"It helps you see where you are skating better," he said. "If this turns out, I plan on getting a patent for it."
Among the other entries, sixth-graders Carly Rixham and Alyssa Westenburger designed a self-service cat feeder from scrap wood and Saran Wrap cellophane. Classmates Leigh Bryant and Melissa Wagner added sand and water to 12-ouncealuminum soda cans and 2-liter plastic bottles to create their own exercise weights.
"I learned you can save a lot of the Earth's resources while making things easier for yourself," Carly said.