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Young scientists advance to state Olympiad

Neal Govani (13) Grimmer Middle School watches his double helicopter fly during 2013 Science Olympiad Regional Tournament Saturday February 23

Neal Govani (13) of Grimmer Middle School watches his double helicopter fly during the 2013 Science Olympiad Regional Tournament on Saturday, February 23, 2013 at Indiana University Northwest. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media

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Top schools

The following schools advance to the 2013 State Science Olympiad Tournament March 16 in Bloomington:

Division C High Schools

1. Carmel High School A Team

2. Valparaiso High School A Team

3. Chesterton High School

4. Michigan City High School

Wildcard: Michigan City Marquette

Division B Middle Schools

1. Thomas Jefferson Middle School (Valparaiso)

2. Chesterton Middle School

3. Pierce Middle School (Merrillville)

4. St. Patrick’s School A Team

Wildcard: Grimmer Middle School (Schererville)

For full results: www.iun.edu/~nwadmin/olympiad/

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Updated: March 25, 2013 6:44AM



GARY — Last year’s Science Olympiad regional taught Michigan City Marquette High School senior Zach Knibbs a few tricks.

He and his partner, sophomore David Dobben, instead of building a wooden ramp for their Gravity Vehicle entry during the 2013 regional competition at Indiana University Northwest on Saturday afternoon, brought out the big guns and constructed a metal ramp. After using wood last year, they had learned the pitfalls.

Gravity Vehice has a two-person team create a wheeled frame and a launching ramp. The vehicle, however, must stop within a prescribed distance — for Saturday’s purposes, it was 8 meters — and the students must be able to determine how close to the distance it will get and how much time it will take, said IztokHozo, a mathematics professor with IUN who judged the event.

The catch: No propulsion devices are allowed, Hozo said, so no springs or electricity.

Wood, as it turns out, tends to deteriorate with use, making the surface inhospitable to gaining maximum velocity. Metal, however, erodes at a much lesser rate, it can be greased to get the best friction plus just looks cooler than wood, Knibbs said.

“This event requires us to use design capabilities, understanding of physics and engineering know-how,” Knibbs said. “Then, when we put the parts together, that required machine skills.”

Hozo said all of the teams did remarkably well. One of the Valparaiso High School contestants, for example, got within an inch of the 8 meters and a second of his predicted time.

“Overall, I’m impressed,” Hozo said.

Highland High School senior Amy Janda and her teammate, Catie Russo, were impressed with everyone who competed in the 22-school regional. Their Forensics coach is also one of the Olympiad Team coaches, and he talked them into competing.

“I have a lot of respect for everyone with every event because this was so hard,” said Russo, who competed in written-test events Designer Genes, Fermi Questions and Chemistry. “We’re both on the track team, and our Forensics teacher equated (the competition) to a track meet, and it really is because everyone does their different things.”

This year, eight teams of the 22 teams passed out of each regional where normally six would move on, said IUN Olympiad coordinator Nelson DeLeon. The wildcard teams, or those who earned fifth place, will head to Lafayette to compete for state births in the next couple of weeks.

The top two ranked teams at the March 16 state competition in Bloomington will advance to the national Science Olympiad at Wright University in Dayton, Ohio, on May 17-18, DeLeon said.



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