Bayport Elementary School is holding a science fair, and first prize is a gift certificate to a cool store called The Nature Place. The Hardys have projects only detectives could dream up—a fingerprint collection and a special spy-scope. Chet’s working on a hot dog cooker powered by the sun, and Mike Mendez is putting a camera in one of his robots to make it a burglar detector.
But when two of the best projects get smashed, bully Zack Jackson blames Billy McGee, the new kid in the fourth grade. Billy can be clumsy, but is he really a walking natural disaster? The robot?s eye never lies, but will that be enough to save the science fair?
Chapter 1: Disaster Area It was a blustery Monday morning at Bayport Elementary School. Frank Hardy sat near the back of the classroom beside his friend Chet Morton. "How long to recess?" Chet whispered to Frank. Frank looked surprised. "We only just got here, Chet." "I know, but I'm starving." Frank grinned. "You know your problem?" he whispered back. "You live for food!" Chet pretended to be surprised. "What else is there?" "Listen up, fourth graders," Mrs. Burton said. "I've got some important news for you. Two pieces of news, in fact." The class looked up. "I hope it's good news, like extra recess," Chet Morton whispered to Frank. "Not bad news like an extra math test." "The first piece of news is that a new student will be joining us today," Mrs. Burton said. "His name is Billy Magee, and he has just moved here from California. So please make him feel welcome." "Sure, we'll make him feel welcome, won't we?" Zack Jackson grinned at his friend Brett Marks. Zack was known as the class bully. Frank saw Zack's mean look. He hoped the new kid wasn't a shrimp. Zack loved picking on little kids. "Billy is still in the office with his mother, filling out forms," Mrs. Burton went on. "He'll be here shortly. But I'm going to go ahead and tell you the other important piece of news. We're going to have a science fair." "Yeah!" The class was really interested now. Chrissy Parker in the front row raised her hand. "For the whole school?" she asked. "The big kids always win." Mrs. Burton shook her head. "This time it's just for the third and fourth graders. You have two weeks to make your projects. Then they'll be on display in the auditorium. They'll remain on display until the open house next month so that your parents can see them, too." "Will there be prizes?" Brett asked. Mrs. Burton smiled. "A store called the Nature Place has generously donated a gift certificate for the first prize. There will be ribbons for the other awards." "Big deal," Zack muttered to Brett. "The Nature Place is cool," Brett answered. "I'll just have to win first prize." "I wonder if I could invent a new food," Chet said thoughtfully. "Something that tasted good, filled you up, and had no calories." "We have it already. It's called water, Chet," Frank answered. At that moment the door opened and a, boy came in. Frank thought that he must be a fifth or sixth grader. He was bigger than all the other kids in the classroom. He had red hair and a lot of freckles. Just then his face was bright red, too. "Yes? Can I help you?" Mrs. Burton asked. "I -- I think I'm supposed to be here," the boy stammered. "I just moved here." "You're Billy Magee?" Mrs. Burton sounded surprised. The boy nodded. Mrs. Burton smiled and held out her hand to him. "Welcome to our class, Billy. Let's see if we can find a seat for you." She looked around the classroom. "Ah, yes. There's a spare desk at the back of the room, next to Frank." Frank waved and pointed to the empty seat beside him. Billy started down the aisle toward his seat. As he passed Chrissy Parker's desk he sent a stack of papers flying. "Whoops, sorry," Billy said. He turned around, and crash! His book bag knocked a pile of books onto the floor. "I didn't mean to -- " he began to say. He bent to pick up the books. There was a clatter as a pencil box fell to the floor. Pencils and pens rolled everywhere. The fourth graders were giggling. "I think maybe you should sit down, Billy," Mrs. Burton said kindly. "Don't worry. Relax. Everyone is nervous on their first day." Billy made it safely down the rest of the aisle. He went to sit down and knocked over his chair. Zack Jackson was sitting on the other side of Billy. "Hey, Billy," he yelled. "You know how we can tell that you come from California? You're a walking earthquake!" This made the whole class burst out laughing. Billy's face turned even redder.Frank could see how embarrassed Billy was feeling. "That wasn't nice, Zack," Mrs. Burton said quickly. "Imagine how you'd feel on your first day at a new school." "I wouldn't destroy the classroom like Godzilla," Zack muttered to Brett. "Come to think of it, he looks like Godzilla, doesn't he?" Brett chuckled. Frank remembered how Zack had loved to tease him when he first moved to Bayport. He decided to be nice to Billy.