Students excel at Science Olympiad
August 28, 2008 · Updated 10:23 AM
MMS wizards narrowly miss state berth
EVERETT Marysville Middle School made a respectable showing at the 23rd Northwest Regional Science Olympiad Tournament on March 17, placing 13th out of 24 teams from around the Puget Sound.
About 700 students from middle schools, junior high and high schools competed at the Everett Community College campus last Saturday, and the MMS team did well in several categories, including a second-place for Metric Mastery. They also took third-place finishes in food science and bug identification challenges and earned fourth place for anatomy, writing and a balloon race.
The lower-tier brackets were dominated by two perennial standouts: Canyon Park Junior High placed two teams first and third overall, and Central Kitsap JHS took second and forth. Stanwood schools did very well over all, with the high school placing third behind heavyweights Lakeside School and Bothell High School, and another Stanwood team placing 12th. Two Stanwood Middle School teams earned sixth- and eighth-place finishes, with another pulling up 20th.
Robert East is a sixth-grade MMS science teacher who lead the team at the Olympiad for the third year. The groups scores were weighed down by rules that docked schools a 25th place score for categories the teams didnt not compete in.
At the end of the day if everybody goes home with a smile, weve been successful, East said while taking a break surrounded by boxes full of testing equipment students brought. A kid who has any interest in science can find an event that can suit them.
Stephanie Mack is an 8th-grader at Marysville Junior High who competed on the MMS team, her third year at the Olympiad. One of her events was the Disease Detective, although she just returned from the Science Crime Busters challenge shaking her head.
We forgot to study for it, Mack said, adding that MMS parents are really supportive.
James Clark is another eighth-grader who returned to compete for a third year, along with his younger brother Andrew. The elder won a gold medal two years ago for the Naked Egg Drop (the eggs were in the raw, not the students) and plans a career as a chemical engineer.
Its pretty neat, Clark said. Mr. East does a great job.
His mother Linda was happy to see the early enthusiasm for science.
Hes one of those kids, she said. He was smarter than me by second grade.
The high school ranks were dominated by a handful of schools, and the Robot Rumble was a good example. This wasnt Battlebots with mano-a-mano action, but individual robots working around an obstacle course to pop balloons or put objects into an acrylic container within a two minute period. Stanwood High Schools Jimmy and Derek Besancon took only one minute and 37 seconds to complete every task for a perfect score of 277. The brothers were on the varsity C-18 team.
They fared better an most, as a series of three teams saw their creations suffer mechanical breakdowns soon after taking the field. Zachery Wydick of Aviation High School was the first, as his robot had one of the tank-tracks malfunction. The junior was pretty upset during a post-mortem with teacher and coach Scott McComb.
Its a hard-knock life, Zack, McComb said as they tried to figure out what went wrong.
Its pretty hard when one side locks up, Wydick said. Im going to go sleep.
Another Aviation High School team had just as much trouble. Alex Leal and Adam McJunkin had two sets of wired controllers to move their colorful creation, but things went south fast as a manipulator arm fell of the robot as soon as it moved.
The hook got caught on a wire, that sucks, McJunkin said.
Event supervisor Mike Gabriels is an aerospace engineer whose daughter placed at state competition a few years ago. He was all heart as Leal and McJunkin put their robot away.
Good job guys, you put a lot of work into it, Gabriels consoled. You cant imagine all the time they put into these things.
Another marvel was the tower building exercise in the college theater, where teams used matchstick-size pieces of wood to create derrick-like structures about 18 inches tall. A chain was affixed to the top and a bucket hung below, gradually filled with sand to test the structure. Matt Bridenbaugh and Jacob Johnson of Stanwood Middle School built a tower that weighed 11.76 grams and held 10.49 kilograms until it failed. A referee said that was a fair showing, but noted the winning score is determined by the ratio of the structures weight to the load it could bear. The current winner was a 5.8-gram tower that held the maximum 15 kilos.
The top 10 finishers in the high school and middle school categories go on to compete at the state Olympiad April 14 at Clark College in Vancouver, Wash., and could earn a berth to the National Science Olympiad at Wichita State University in Kansas during May.
Even though Marysville Middle School just missed out on the top 10, East said the event was a success.
They get a chance to compete, but its something different than sports or music, East said.