Middle school students shine
Several Steamboat Springs Middle School students medaled in the regional Science Olympiad competition Saturday.
Eighth-grader Hannah Barkey won a gold medal in the "Scrambler" event for her weight-propelled vehicle that carried a raw egg closest to a wall without cracking the egg. Hannah also won silver medals in the "Anatomy" and "Disease Detectives" events.
Eighth-grader Isis Meyers won gold and silver medals in the "Scrambler" and "Disease Detectives" events, respectively. Scott Powers, also in eighth grade, took home a silver medal in "Anatomy."
The team scored in the top 10 in 12 events and finished in 12th place against 27 teams. It did not qualify for the state competition next month.
Eighth grade science teacher Brad Kindred, the team's mentor, said the experience gained this year will build a strong team in the future.
"The middle school now has a fresh crop of 'old pros' ready to take on the rest of the state next year," Kindred said. "A team ice cream party will be given next week, and we're already planning for next year."
Steamboat Springs Seth Davidson pulled on a strap to trigger a system of batteries and axles, and suddenly the wooden vehicle began rolling across the classroom floor like a miniature tank.
"It's slow, but it's powerful," said Davidson, a Steamboat Springs High School junior and member of the Science Olympiad team. "We had to turn it on without touching it."
Seth and his brother Jordan Davidson, a senior, built the vehicle in about two weeks with senior Vincent Abate. They entered it in the Science Olympiad competition held at Poudre High School in Fort Collins last weekend.
Steamboat science teacher Charlie Leech said 23 teams from 16 schools entered the competition, which included academic tests as well as building and design challenges. Steamboat's high school team placed 12th, Leech said, good enough to qualify for the state competition April 12 at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden.
Fifteen Steamboat students are members of the Science Olympiad team, Leech said, including freshmen through seniors. Sophomore Stefan Palmer helped build bagpipes and a pipe-style xylophone for a "Sound of Music" event, which required two musical instruments that could be used to play "God Bless America."
After a brief tune, Palmer cupped his hands and banged out notes to the song on the large-scale, modified xylophone made of PVC pipes held together with wooden planks.
The students used upholstered vinyl to build airbags for the bagpipes, which Jordan Davidson said included reeds made from yogurt cup materials and dental floss.
"It's like MacGyver," Jordan Davidson said, referring to the 1980s TV secret agent as he pulled a reed from the bagpipes. "You can even see the nutrition labels."
Jordan Davidson said largely thanks to a stroke of luck, the bagpipes played in tune.
"It brought a tear to my eye," Leech said.
Leech said the team will work on fine-tuning its competition entries in preparation for next month's event and is looking for a local sponsor to help with some of the costs and to support young engineers.
He credited senior Victoria Lavington with handling much of the organizing duties for the team. Lavington said her role included designing the team T-shirts, coordinating team meetings and schedules, and keeping everyone on track for the regional competition.
She gave a simple reason for her involvement in Science Olympiad.
"Making new friends and getting out of the perspective of cliques," Lavington said. "We all had fun."