The Science Olympiad team received medals in two events at the state competition held Friday at Juniata College. Thirty-six schools from six regions in Pennsylvania attended the event.
The students competed as teams of two people. There were 23 events and each student competed in three events, which covered a variety of topics including bottle rockets, fossils, disease detectives, ornithology, optics and anatomy, and more.
This year was the first time Nazareth won a spot at the Pennsylvania State Science Olympiad Tournament since it began competing 15 years ago. The team placed third at the contest held in March at Kutztown University.
Eighth-grader Dan Shevalier and seventh-grader Matthew Porter won fifth place in the battery buggy event. The pair built an 11.5-inch wood vehicle powered by two AA batteries, Porter explained.
The team’s car was required to travel seven meters (about 28 feet), head around a five-gallon bucket and stop on a dot on the floor. The car had to be able to travel between six and 10 meters, he said.
The car is not remote controlled. Porter explained that the buggy stops because as it travels down the floor, a nut moves across a threaded axle and presses against a steel lever that shuts it off.
“It feels really nice to win the first medal for our school,” Shevalier said. “A whole lot better feeling than regionals, because it was harder.”
Porter added, “It feels good because we worked hard at it and we’re rewarded for it.”
The second win for Nazareth was in in the meteorology event. Victoria Steinberger, a ninth-grader at , and Ariana Gee, an eighth-grader, won fourth place.
The girls were tested on their knowledge of severe storms. According to the Pennsylvania Science Olympiad website, sample questions included interpreting a chart about wind speeds and determining which city around Lake Michigan would receive the greatest amount of lake-effect snow.
Steinberger said it was great that she and Gee won because they worked so hard.
Gee said winning felt “totally awesome. I’m hyped now.”
Steinberger added that she thinks Nazareth really proved itself, because some schools use Science Olympiad as a class. At Nazareth, it’s a club with a limit on the number of students per grade who can participate.
Celia Szuba, a Science Olympiad coach and science teacher at NAMS, said team members practiced during lunchtime, early before school, after school and on their own time at home and on weekends.
“These kids sacrificed a lot of time to be in Science Olympiad," Szuba said. "They are in sports and drama and still found time to dedicate to this competition.”
The team also included: Nate Bellito, Madison Davis, Carolina Braga, Pallavi Garg, Mihikka Garg, Meaghan Kelly, and Kelly Sarkis from the middle school, and freshmen Nate DeRaymond, Sydney Lukus and Abi Vanover from the high school, Szuba said. Victoria Martine, Jake Strow and Haley Britcher were substitutes and assisted the team.
“Every one of the kids perfected, made changes and studied more," Szuba said. "They pushed themselves to reach a higher level. They all did better and took more risks with designs to get more points without being reckless.”