As 2:30 p.m. neared, Kelly Lentsch and Kelly Blough were almost ready for their Mission.
The Northridge Middle School pupils were two of the students taking part in the Science Olympiad Saturday at Goshen College. The tournament challenges middle and high school students to perform science, chemistry and math-based events for a panel of judges.
The challenge for Lentsch and Blough that afternoon was an event dubbed “Mission Possible.” For 30 minutes on the second floor of the GC science building, the girls fine-tuned a Rube Goldburg-style device contained in a four-sided wooden box.
The students’ method: trial and error and try again.
According to plan, the Mission sequence started with a coin dropped onto a seesaw, with the seesaw then striking dominoes. The dominoes would then fall onto the plastic egg, causing it to crack.
At that point, a ball was to fall out of the egg and into a cup that would move another cup up via a pulley system. Then a 9-volt battery would be raised onto a platform higher than anything else in the device.
“It works!,” Blough said at 2:22. Minutes later, it was showtime.
Watched by Blough and three volunteer judges from GC, Lentsch dropped a coin. And ... Mission accomplished?
“Somewhat,” Lentsch said.
The Northridge girls were part of a regional Science Olympiad tournament involving eight B division and 11 C division teams. In each division, the top three teams qualified to enter the state tournament, and the fourth place team qualified to enter the wild card tournament.
The Science Olympiad began nationally in 1982 and has been hosted at Goshen College regionally since 1991.
In the B division, The Stanley Clark School (South Bend) took first place with 45 points, LaSalle Academy (South Bend) took second place with 73 points, Northridge Middle School took third place with 78 points, and Manchester Jr./Sr. High School took fourth place with 80 points. In the C division, La Lumiere School took first place with 53 points, South Bend Adams High School took second place with 75 points, South Bend Riley High School took third place with 75 points, and Manchester Jr./Sr. High School took fourth place with 108 points. Bethany Christian Schools students also participated.
This year, close to 80 GC students, 19 faculty/staff volunteers and nine community members were set to oversee and judge the events. One of them was Rosie Horst, a senior biochemistry major. Horst competed in Science Olympiad as a student at Northridge High School and has helped with the event for the past three years.
“Science Olympiad really encouraged me to pursue science,” Horst said. “It provides an opportunity for students to do the same, and be challenged more than in their everyday classes.”
The Goshen College media relations department contributed to this report.