Students love freedom Olympiad offers

First Posted: 3/18/2012

Collin MacMullen, 12, spent his first time at the Regional Science Olympiad competition enjoying not just the various science projects, but the sense of freedom that came along with it.

“I like being able to not be taken by the hand to every event,” said the Lake-Lehman junior high school student from Shavertown. “You get to do your own thing.”

Students from 52 schools from throughout northeastern Pennsylvania got to experience that same sense of freedom at the 2012 Regional Science Olympiad competition at the Penn State Wilkes-Barre campus March 7.

More than 750 students, including students from Lake-Lehman and Dallas middle and high schools, competed in contests such as “Compute This,” “Microbe Mission,” “Keep the Heat” and others.

MacMullen was most interested in the “Keep the Heat” competition because he and his teammates spent quite a bit of time preparing.

The object of the experiment is to devise a way to keep a beaker of warm water insulated. It’s tested by keeping track of the water’s temperature over a period of time.

The Lake-Lehman junior high team created a cube and stuffed it with wool. Team members also created a stand for the beaker to keep it surrounded by the soft fibers.

“It kept the beaker snug and the wool was compacted around it, which kept the water heated,” said 12-year-old Marina Malcolm, of Shavertown.

Malcolm joined Science Olympiad because it enabled her to meet new people while exploring a subject she finds interesting.

“I like science because just the thought that every day you can discover something new, and if there’s a theory that’s been proven right, you might be able to prove it wrong,” she said.

Jean Lipki, Lake-Lehman gifted education teacher and Science Olympiad advisor, said the program allows young students to learn certain life skills while learning about scientific principles.

“I think it’s great – it teaches them creativity, time management, teamwork, stress management, competition,” she said.

Lipski said the aspect she looks most forward to is not any particular event, like “Bottle Rockets” or “Thermodynamics” – it’s listening to the younger kids’ reactions to the day.

“It’s fun for them because it’s so exuberant and they get to interact with other kids on a college campus,” she said.

Lipski said the two Lake-Lehman teams had prepped for the Olympiad since December with the help of science and shop teachers at the school.

Dustin Zeiler, 17, of Dallas, was a newcomer to the event – a friend on the Lake-Lehman team needed his help because Zeiler knew how to play an instrument.

For the “Sounds of Music” event, participants had to create musical instruments and play them at the competition. Zeiler plays the trumpet, but he ended up making a clay oboe.

“We tried to make an ocarina, but it didn’t work out,” he said.

Zeiler was more laid back during the day and said the event was “a nice break from school.”

Dallas High School team member Amber Habib, 15, of Dallas, was a bit more on edge during the competition while watching her teammates perform and getting ready for her own events – “Forensics,” Gravity Vehicle,” and “Protein Model.”

“I’m equally nervous for all of them,” said Habib. “Some of them are harder than others. But my team is doing well.”

Habib has been been involved in Science Olympiad for the last three years, and she enjoys the challenge of the various events that her team prepares for all year.

“We work hard but it pays off in the end,” she said.

2012 Regional Science Olympiad Winners

DIVISION B (Middle school)

1st – Stroudsburg Junior High School

2nd – Wayne Highlands Middle School

3rd – Park Forest Middle School

4th – J.T. Lambert Intermediate School

5th – Mount Nittany Middle School

6th – Abington Heights Middle School

7th – Wilkes-Barre Academy

DIVISION C (High schools)

1st – Athens Area High School

2nd – East Stroudsburg High School South

3rd – Stroudsburg High School

4th – North Pocono High School

5th – Lehighton High School

6th – Nanticoke High School

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