Students earn high science honors

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— Scott Ptach isn't old enough to drive, but the eighth-grader knows how to take advantage of his driveway.

For the project he entered in the Steamboat Springs Middle School Science Fair, Scott ran a 42-foot-long rope down his driveway and through some trees to compare the aerodynamics of two- and three-dimensional objects.

With help from his father, Tom, 13-year-old Scott sent flat shapes cut from heavy paper -- a circle, square and triangle -- down the line, followed by a cube, cone and pyramid.

The project he created with data from the experiments took second place, finishing behind eighth-grader Lilly Hoff's analysis of air-borne bacteria found in Routt County.

During an assembly Wed--nesday at the middle school, science teacher Brad Kindred and school Principal Tim Bishop honored winners from last week's Science Fair and regional Science Olympiad competition in Fort Collins.

"We had 73 contestants who presented experimentally designed projects to the judges," Kindred said. "This year, medal winners also receive cash awards."

The money -- Lilly received $50 -- was a surprise to the students who participated in the optional contest for eighth-graders.

"We were trying to make the Science Fair a little more significant," Bishop said. "We wanted to show our gratitude to those students."

A team of 15 students from the middle school traveled to Fort Collins on Friday for the Olympiad competition, which included a full day of events such as "Mystery Architecture," in which students had to construct a catapult out of scrap materials.

Steamboat finished fourth out of 19 schools.

"This is the best our team has ever done," Bishop said.

"The team received a fourth-place overall finish because we were consistent," added Kindred, the Olympiad coach. "We placed in the top 10 in most every event, with some fourth- and fifth-place finishes. This was a very focused team."

At the event, a regional Sci--ence Olym--piad committee named Kindred "Science Olympiad Coach of the Year."

Kindred and his students already are preparing for next year, he said.

"On Saturday night, after a long day of competition and a longer ride back through Laramie (Wyo.) and Walden, a question came from the back of the bus as we pulled into the high school parking lot: 'Can we do this again?'" Kindred recalled. "We've already started."

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