The work behind a disappointing result

When I was in the eighth grade (2016-2017), I wanted to participate in the National Science Olympiad just as I had done the previous year. Due to my fascination with building things, I chose to make a rubber band plane as one of my projects in the competition. If I recall correctly, I ordered a kit from a science website as soon as possible and went straight to work on it. Examining all the materials and equipment with keen eyes, thinking of how I could build the perfect airplane, I opened up a YouTube video of another such plane design. I remember the kit having an instruction manual with a blueprint of the kit plane. Obviously, I decided it was not worth my time and watched the YouTube video instead.

As I had relatively less homework in middle school as compared to high school, my excitement motivated me to continue building the plane from the video. When my parents noticed that I was continuously building this, they offered to help me and provide me guidance, which I blatantly refused. “I can do this,” I told them, “No need to help me on something I can build.” I continued this process of building for a couple of weeks; just the fact that I knew I was making something by myself was motivation enough for me to keep doing it.

I managed to scrape together a build together eventually, after which I decided that I should call my competition partner. More so for him to be jealous of the build I had done without him, than for actual help. And when the time came to test the indoor plane, I wound up a home rubber band, put it on the plane, and tossed it in my backyard. When the “perfect flight” never took place, I told myself, “That’s okay, I will get to building the next version immediately.” This time, I completely abandoned the YouTube plane, and instead decided to make a plane based off of a picture I found online, using the same materials from the kit.

Every weekend, I sat on my dining table trying to recreate the plane from the image I had found. I got actual competition rubber bands, different thicknesses of wood, as well as a rubber winder as I had seen on the internet. Maybe that was the problem I thought, maybe my materials were wrong. However, when the time came to fly the plane, I threw it in my backyard, and every time it stopped dead in its track and fell or went straight backward. Maybe once in a while, I would get a slight glide out of it if I tossed it right. Maybe my tossing method was wrong, or perhaps the design itself. So I built a new plane almost every week and watched it fail from my ladder in my backyard.

Every time I was building, I would get my fingers cut by a blade while snipping the wood or burned by hot glue if I was too careless. Getting my fingers covered in blood and burns actually made me feel good in a way; it proved to me that I was actually doing something. I spent my entire two weeks of winter break building planes and watching them fail. I even searched up scholarly research papers about aerodynamics, which was useless as I did not understand the concepts and got bored. I knew I should have probably been working on my other two Science Olympiad projects as well, but I paid little attention to them, putting the vast majority of time and effort toward this one plane.

Going through all of this failure, I never even once tried to use my greatest resource of all - other people.