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Boy Wins $10,000 for Toy Roller Coaster

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Boy Wins $10,000 for Toy Roller Coaster

d44c7f262de75f07b401c03f14e0f07f.jpg Ian Culhane stands behind a 7-foot-tall toy roller coaster in New York on Th...

By VERENA DOBNIK, AP

NEW YORK —

Ian Culhane won $10,000 for designing a 7-foot-tall toy roller coaster. Not bad for a 10-year-old.

"It's money for college," the aspiring engineer from Olympia, Wash., said Thursday about the savings bond.

Ian's creation was on display at the Toys "R" Us store in Times Square, where he accepted the prize from the president of K'NEX Brands, a building toy company in Hatfield, Pa.

The boy, who first started playing with building sets when he was 4, was one of thousands of children ages 6 to 12 who entered the annual contest.

Ian began the project last summer, using 6,000 plastic parts from his collection of 15,000 to assemble the roller coaster, which runs through the body of a dragon.

Two months ago, his parents packed it up and shipped it off for the contest. Just recently, his parents told him he won.

"It was like, whoa! Huh? I didn't think I'd win, 'cause there were so many other good ones," he said.

A panel of judges comprised of K'NEX employees selected semifinalists based on the creativity, uniqueness and detail of the projects. It had to be made exclusively from K'NEX parts.

An online vote determined 10 winners and Joel Glickman, an inventor with the toy company, chose Ian as the grand prize winner. The nine others each won $1,000 savings bonds.

In New York for the first time, Ian, his 14-year-old sister and their parents stayed at a hotel he called "pretty fancy for us. We always stay at a Motel 6."

While he was disappointed he couldn't spend any of the prize money, his father, a hydrogeologist, gave him $100 to spend at a toy store.

What will he buy? More plastic building parts.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.

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