Steamboat Springs High School Science Olympiad team performs well at state |

Steamboat Springs High School Science Olympiad team performs well at state

Steamboat Springs High School Science Olympiads Ty Coghlan, left, and Taylor Zabel show off the tower they built for a state competition in Golden.

— Thursday was a day of celebration for the Steamboat Springs High School Science Olympiad team.

Members of the team ate ice cream as they watched a slide show of pictures that summarized their trip to a state competition in Golden last month.

"The mere fact that we accomplished what we did with our team being half the size of everyone else's is stellar," science teacher and coach Charlie Leech said as he congratulated his students on their performance at the state competition. "This is what makes my teaching fun."

Leech and eight students traveled to the Colorado School of Mines last month to compete with more than 400 high school students across the state. The students built anti-gravity vehicles as well as wooden towers that had to sustain a certain amount of weight. They also were quizzed on topics such as water quality and protein modeling.

The team was sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank, Yampa Valley Electric, the Yampa Valley Community Foundation and Rotary International.

"You guys put your heart and your soul into it," Leech told his students. "I'm just as proud as I can be for you guys."

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Sophomore Taylor Zabel said that at the competition, he watched and waited anxiously as sand was added to a bucket being supported by the wooden tower he made. The structure was strengthened by cross-beams and adhesive.

"It was nerve-wracking to see the bucket of sand get heavier and heavier and finally get to 32 pounds," he said. "My tower made it all the way, thank goodness. But toward the end, I heard the tower creak a little."

Leech said his team's trip to state this year marked the third time it was chosen to compete there in the past eight years. Students brought back five top ten finishes in events ranging from optics to tower building. The students also brought back a plaque that deemed their trip an "outstanding performance by a small school."

Leech said he's looking forward to having it displayed in the high school's trophy case.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email

Science Olympiad state results

■ Ninth place, gravity vehicle: Peyton Trask

■ Seventh place, optics: Taylor Zabel, Christian Poirot

■ Ninth place, tower building: Zabel, Ty Coghlan

■ Seventh place, water quality: Zabel, Aidan Gibbs

■ Sixth place, Write it, Do it: Kestral Johnson, Coghlan

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