By Marlys Kruger
With an emphasis in science and technology throughout the United States the past several years, many schools have been looking for more ways to get students involved in these subject matters. One of the ways the Colfax School District has drawn interest is by allowing students to participate in the Science Olympiad competition. Six students including seniors Heidi Lieffort, Equality Wilson, Katy Toycen and Schyler Manning along with juniors Matt Shaw and Brandon Anderson have become the first at the school to compete in some meets this year.
According to its website, Science Olympiad is an “American elementary, middle school and high school team competition in which students compete in events pertaining to various scientific disciplines including earth science, biology, chemistry, physics and engineering”. Although Colfax did not have enough participants for a team score, they were allowed to compete as individuals with Heidi and Equality both earning first place medals at the River Falls meet recently.
Their category was called “Write It, Build It” which involved one of them being presented an object and having to describe it using just words on the keyboard of a computer, and the other having to build it using those directions.
“That was really hard,” they both said. “Trying to explain a styrofoam cup with a bunch of objects sticking out of it then building it was quite a challenge.”
Katy and Schyler competed in the “Forensic Science” division and had to solve a crime after being given several clues. They placed third at the Boyceville meet and both said they learned a lot about a field of science they may want to enter some day.
Matt and Brandon competed at River Falls in the Elastic Glider category which involved having to build a glider and a launching pad, then seeing how far and how long the glider would fly. They didn’t have a lot of luck as the glider fell apart shortly after launching.
“We learned a lot by observing the other kids and how they built theirs,” Matt said. Brandon added,”In our first time doing something like this, we just didn’t know what to expect so at least now we can figure out what changes to make for the next meet.”
With sometimes over 100 schools in high school and middle school in the competitions, high school science teacher Mark Mosey has also had a learning experience as the advisor for the group.
“It is just amazing to see how the meets are set up and how organized they are,” he said. “And to see what the kids from other schools accomplish and knowing the time put into the projects and how knowledgeable they become is great. We had a small group for our first year but we welcome anyone who would like to participate next year to talk to these six kids or myself. There are tons of categories to choose from and there are more meets then what we went to this year. There is even a regional meet with a chance to qualify for the state meet. I am learning alot myself as we go along,” he added.
All six Colfax kids will compete in their same categories March 1 at the regional meet in Menomonie with state competition later in the month.