By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Science took center stage in Goshen Saturday morning as 13 area Science Olympiad teams converged on a snow-dusted Goshen College campus to participate in the 2012 Science Olympiad Regional Tournament.
Modeled after the Olympic Games — but with a twist — each participating school fielded a team of up to 15 students to compete in more than 30 science-based events ranging anywhere from music and meteorology to physics and robotics.
Divided into middle school and high school divisions, each team did its best to secure one of three available slots — two middle school and one high school — that would allow them to advance to the state competition at Indiana University Bloomington on March 4.
Winners at the state tournament will then compete in the national tournament at the University of Central Florida, Orlando, Fla., on May 18 and 19.
In addition to the guaranteed slot winners Saturday, one additional team from each division won a chance to compete in a “wild card” tournament set for March 10 at Ivy Tech Community College in Lafayette. The winners there will fill any remaining spots at the state tournament.
About 100 Goshen College students, faculty and community members involved in science-based occupations were on hand throughout the day to judge and oversee the various competitions.
Teams participating in the Division B category — grades six to nine — this year included: Bethany Christian Schools, Imagine MASTer Academy, Manchester Junior/Senior High School, Northridge Middle School, South Bend Career Academy, St. Pius X Catholic School and The Stanley Clark School.
Teams competing in Division C — grades nine to 12 — included: Bethany Christian Schools, Columbia City Hight School, John Adams High School, LaPorte High School and Mishawaka High School.
Northridge Middle School seventh graders Kelly Blough and Andrew Maas counted themselves among the approximately 180 students to participate in this year’s Science Olympiad Regional Tournament. The two made up one of seven teams to participate in the always popular “Tower” competition Saturday afternoon, where students have to construct a tower out of wood to certain specifications that is then graded on its ability to hold up to 15 kilograms of sand while weighing the least amount possible.
“They did really well,” said head Northridge coach Jen Cormack following her team’s performance. “They’ve been working really hard, and it’s a really light tower, which is really nice. Andrew came up with the design himself.”
While happy with his tower’s performance overall, Maas said he was hopeful it would hold a little more sand than it did before finally breaking.
“It did OK,” Maas said of the tower. “I was hoping it held a little bit more. I think it ended up holding around 10 kilograms, and the max is 15 kilograms.”
Even so, Maas said he’s not done with the Science Olympiad, and is already thinking of ways to make a stronger tower for his next competition.
“I definitely need to work on the design of my base,” Maas said, “That’s the part that broke last time too.”