Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Sunday, February 10, 2008

San Diego Science Olympiad - Sean's team

San Diego Union Tribune article about the Science Olympiad:

The Torrey Hills Elementary Science Olympiad Team

One of our projects for the last few months (since October) has been coaching and preparing our kids for the San Diego Science Olympiad, held this last February 2nd. Doug and I coached the Road Scholar event, a map reading and comprehension competition for both the elementary and the middle school.

Typically each student that participates enrolls in either 3 or 4 events along with a partner. At least one event must be a building event, the other events are tests.

This is what happens when the brakes fail

Sean's building event was called Scrambler. They had to build a wheeled vehicle with a launching system and brakes.

An example of a good Scrambler run

They taped an egg to the front of the vehicle and run it down a course with a plank at the end. The idea is to get the vehicle as close to the plank as possible without touching it and without breaking the egg.

Sean, Drew and Drew's dad strategizing

The scoring is dependent on how long the vehicle takes to make its run and how close to the plank it gets. The distance to the plank is not known in advance, the range they were given beforehand was 8-12 meters and for the competition the distance was 9 meters.

Sean and Drew getting set up

Sean and his partner Drew had a hard time taping the egg onto the front of the vehicle, they broke two eggs and if they'd broken a third, they would have been disqualified.

Working hard to finish the setup

Sean and Drew were the youngest participants in the event, most of the participants are 3 years older. They had one problem after another getting set up and there was a murmur going through the room as the parents of other participants made sounds of sympathy for their struggles.

An awesome run, the egg was 2 cm from the plank

They finally completed their run and after all that trouble it would have been good enough to earn them a medal, the car moved quickly and stopped less than an inch (2 cm) from the wall.

But they'd exceeeded the 10-minute time limit allowed for setup and to complete the first run so their score didn't count.

Sean and Drew showing off their Scrambler car

They were great sports about it. We were really proud of our 5th graders going head-to-head in an event for 6th-9th graders.

Torrey Hills and their 9th place trophy

The single team from their school, the only elementary school in the event, took 9th place out of the over 40 schools and over 70 teams who were there that day, nobody expected it.

I think by next year they're going to be a force to contend with. Now if we could just get them to grow a little...

- Kathleen

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