Steamboat Springs Joe Nerney has his rocket that he made out of soda bottles ready for takeoff when he competes in the Colorado Science Olympiad in Fort Collins Saturday.
Nerney is a member of the Science Olympians club at the middle school. He and his fellow club members have been working since October on science projects they want to enter in the Olympiad, a statewide contest.
Nerney said science has always been his favorite subject.
"Basically, I like building rockets and stuff," he said. He said the hardest part of building his rocket was making the wings aerodynamic. While Nerney has completed the construction of his rocket, he has to figure out the amount of water to put in the rocket that, in combination with compressed air, will send it off.
Lydia Kindred is entering the bridge-building contest. She said she has learned what shapes offer the most strength in architecture. She said her group carved small pieces of wood to piece them together in perfect triangles. The triangles were added to their bridge to increase the strength and amount of weight it could hold, she said.
Kindred is also competing in the astronomy category. She said she has learned about nebulas, constellations and the solar system.
Brad Kindred and George Weber, both middle school science teachers, have sponsored the club, giving students guidance and enthusiasm for learning.
"We're here as mentors. We give suggestions, but they do the work," Kindred said.
Kindred said with the amount of hard work his group has put into their projects, he is hopeful about the group going to state.
"We were only two points from going to state last year," he said.
The special quality of the Science Olympians isn't only their intelligence but their camaraderie, Kindred said.
"The cool thing about this team is that it includes sixth- though eighth-graders," he said. He said the team works well together despite their grade differences.
"There is no picking on the younger students."
Kindred said all the science projects are based on "pure science" and do not require a lot of creative interpretation from the students. He said other science clubs may focus more on creative applications of science, not basic ideas and concepts. He said community members have helped the students see the application of science. Bill Badaracca, who works in construction, has volunteered his time to teach kids necessary skills for putting together their projects. Kindred said eventually he would like to oversee the projects but let students seek out members of the community who work in a field applicable to their science interest.
He said the students are excited about meeting their competition.
"The kids have the motto, 'Do or do not there is no try,'" he said.