On Friday, our Science teacher handed everyone in our Science class an invitation to participate in our school district’s Ninth Annual Science Olympics.
At first, I didn’t even think about participating, because I didn’t think I was very good at Science. But after school, my friend Jason asked if I would be his partner. Jason was kind of a shy kid like me. I was surprised he had decided to join. He said there would be lots of fun events, so I agreed to go.
The next week, all the students who signed up met after school with Ms. Lee, the Head Science Teacher. She told us that there would be many events , but that we could choose only two. We would be competing both for ourselves, and our school. There would be as many as six different schools participating.
There were lots of cool events we could choose from. There were the Mousetrap Cars, Large Barge, Toothpick Towers, the Light Bulb Brightness Challenge, the Electromagnet Pull, and the Egg Drop. Jason and I decided on the Egg Drop and the Large Barge as our events.
We spent a week preparing a basket of cotton balls that stuck together. One of the rules for this event was that our padded landing materials, no matter what it was made from, couldn’t have any of the material fly out. We wondered what kind of padding material students from other schools might have chosen.
The Large Barge event would challenge students to take a one foot square sheet of aluminum foil and form it into a flat-bottom ‘boat’ and then see how many marbles it would support. Jason and I each practiced doing this at home, hoping we could come up with an effective design.
The day of the Science Olympics arrived. Each group of students wore their school’s Science Team T-shirt. Ours was really cool. It was white with red and black drawings. It had a design that included a mad scientist holding a bubbling test tube, a rocket lifting off, and a solar powered car. The students there were really excited.
For the Egg Drop event, we were psyched that we would get to go up on a scissor lift construction platform over 15 feet high to drop our eggs. Our egg never broke in our 5 attempts. But our team was not the only one whose egg survived. The tiebreaker for the awards was the team whose padded basket was least dense. We didn’t win, but we were happy that we got a third place medal. Another team from our school won first, so it was a good thing for our school.
The Large Barge event was tough. There were more than five teams competing, and we didn’t come close to winning. It was amazing to us that our foil boat was able to hold 95 marbles before it took on water, but many teams went on to get more than 125 marbles to stay aboard the flat metallic surface before water seeped over the edges.
Jason and I didn’t feel bad not winning. It was great seeing students devise creative ways to make their barges so supportive.
Overall, it was a surprisingly great way to spend Saturday morning at school. I realized that lots of students my age enjoy Science, and like to compete at it. I found out that I liked Science a lot more than I thought, and that I would plan on coming back to the Science Olympics next year.