Mentor Students Show Minds That Matter At Science Olympiad
More than 1,100 students from 79 teams gathered Saturday at Mentor High for the school's 12th annual Science Olympiad Invitational
Dennis Pranjic -- a sixth grader from Ridge Middle School -- needed to pick his rocket.
He was one of the almost 1,200 kids from 79 teams competing at Mentor High's 12th annual Science Olympiad Invitational Saturday.
For his second event of the day, he needed to shoot a homemade rocket into the atmosphere using air pressure. (Earlier, he and his partner Alex Gonia, had used a homemade trebuchet to fling stones at a cardboard castle.) The rocket with the best hang time wins the event.
But it was windy and that was throwing an unwanted invariable into an already complicated game. It was, after all, rocket science.
Fortunately, Pranjic had been preparing for this for most of the year (as had many of the scientist-students who competed Saturday.) He built not one, but three, different rockets -- each suited for different circumstances.
"A coney doesn't work too much with the wind," he said, explaining why he wasn't using his cone-shaped rocket. "But if it wasn't windy, that would be best."
Instead, he used a tubular rocket made from a fluorescent light case. He waited for the wind to die down and fired it into the air.
The rocket fired about 200 feet into the air and landed in the nearby football field about 13 seconds later.
Students competed in dozens of events Saturday that tested their acumen in almost every facet of science. The students build towers, helicopters and trebuchets, then test their effectiveness. They learn about microbes and magnets, ornithology and optics.
And while not every event was impacted by wind, all of the students had to make last-minute decisions that affected their performance after months of calculations and preparation.
Tom Ramsey, the physics teacher at Mentor High School, organizes the invitational, but he gets a lot of help from the community. Parents of team members and even students volunteer to help visiting teams.
In general, Science Olympiad uses an it-takes-a-village approach. The coaches for individual events are often parents in the community with a background in science.
The Olympiad doesn't just provide a scientific challenge and brain teasers for kids. It's also fun, Pranjic said.
"It appeals to me because I like rockets," he said. "I really like using a trebuchet and hitting castles. It's fun."
The olympiad invitational is a huge event with a lot happening in a lot of different places. I couldn't possibly capture it all with one camera. So, please, feel free to upload your own photos and videos from the event.