Sophia Wang and Chetan Yenigalla of Ravenwood High School made their airplanes fly. Sisters Claire and Gwen Moser, also from Ravenwood, created a catapult that launched a tennis ball within inches of their intended targets.
In 23 STEM-related events for middle and high school students, 200 teenagers collaborated as teammates to find solutions, answer test questions and create and build gadgets and gizmos to try to make them work during the 28th annual Regional Science Olympiad at Middle Tennessee State University Saturday, Feb. 18.
The budding scientists learned teamwork and principles of STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — during the all-day event that featured middle school activities like “Forestry,” “Storm the Castle,” “Wheeled Vehicle” and “Disease Detectives” and high school challenges that included “Trajectory,” “Scrambler,” “Forensics” and “Astronomy.”
Science Olympiad is a team competition where students in both divisions compete in 23 events related to various fields of science, including biology, chemistry, physics, engineering and earth science. The teams were vying for berths in the State Science Olympiad tournament, scheduled Saturday, April 1, at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
Ravenwood, located in Brentwood, Tennessee, earned first-place honors in the high school division. Central Magnet in Murfreesboro placed first among middle schools.
Other high school teams advancing to the state tournament April 1 include runner-up Brentwood, third-place Central Magnet, fourth-place Shelbyville (Tennessee) Central and fifth-place Rockvale.
Merrol Hyde Magnet in Hendersonville, Tennessee, was runner-up in the middle school division. The rest of the top six included third-place Page in Williamson County; fourth-place Rocky Fork in Smyrna, Tennessee; fifth-place Rossview in Clarksville, Tennessee; and sixth-place Christiana, Tennessee All advanced to the state tournament.
Event Director Pat Patterson, an MTSU chemistry professor, said there was “an incredible amount of energy and excitement at all of our events. It was a very successful tournament. I’m grateful to all of our faculty, students and community volunteers for their support.”
Patterson plans to step down as director, turning the leadership to Kevin Ragland, associate director with the Tennessee STEM Education Center.
MTSU’s hosting the event showcases the science buildings, laboratories, classrooms and faculty to potential MTSU students. The MTSU College of Basic and Applied Science provided MTSU Creamery chocolate milk and morning and lunch refreshments.
One team’s effort
At the “Trajectory” event in the Strobel Lobby area between Wiser-Patten Science Hall and Davis Science Building, the Moser sisters kicked off the competition with a strong effort.
Along with other teams waiting their turn were two from Central Magnet. Junior Rogelio “Roger” Martinez, 16, was actually “subbing” for junior Ethan Adams and sophomore Rebekah Hogue, who were also competing across campus for Central at the TNFIRST FTC State Championship in robotics. Adams and Hogue later made it to their Science Olympiad event to join ninth grade teammates Ian Fletcher and Aziza Abdukhalilova.
Calling the experience “eventful,” Martinez said Central students began “creating and designing objects for our events every Wednesday and Thursday in December for one hour.” Their events also included “Codebusters,” “Bridge” and “Detector Building.”
Martinez said their coaches, geography teacher Clay Burns and science teacher Brenda Royal, “supported us along the way and helped us with what we needed.”
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)
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