A lot of jousting took place at Eastern Washington University on Saturday afternoon, and not a single sword was drawn.
“Mental athletics. That’s what this is,” said Steve Gjefle, a teacher at Frontier Middle School in Moses Lake.
Gjefle’s school joined 36 others at Eastern Washington University for the 1995 Science Olympiad State Tournament, where at least 600 middle and high school students took part in competitions designed to exercise the brain.
“The competition takes science to the same level sports has been for years,” said Rachel Kiser, a science teacher at Langley Middle School on Whidbey Island.
Kiser’s school sent her team of 17 sixth-graders off to EWU with a banner and a pep rally just as they would for a basketball team.
“We feel really supported by the student body,” she said.
Regional competitions earlier this year narrowed the field of 116 teams to 42 - including teams from Ferris High School and Chase Middle School in Spokane.
Students competed individually and in pairs for the gold, silver and bronze medals offered in the 46 events. The overall winner will go to national competitions in May.
Heather McKeon, an EWU biology professor and the Olympiad director, said the competition gives students a creative outlet and “non-athletes the recognition they deserve.”
Competitions include “Mousetrap vehicles,” where students design vehicles powered by a one-spring mousetrap; “Write it, do it,” where one student writes a description of a contraption that another student must use to re-create the contraption; and “Egg drop,” where students design a container that protects a dropped egg.
Andrew Lyle, 12, of Whidbey Island, made 32 paper airplanes practicing for the aerodynamics competition.
“His house was covered with paper airplanes,” said teacher Kiser.
Andrew, whose plane stayed aloft nearly five seconds, said practice doesn’t always make perfect. “Sometimes my planes work, and sometimes they don’t,” he said.
Just minutes away from competing himself, Andy Jones, 16, of Ferris, watched his competition perform in the “scrambler,” where students design a device that moves an egg several feet as fast as possible - without hitting the wall at the end. “You can be as creative as you want,” Jones said. “It’s fun.”
MEMO: This is a sidebar that appeared wiht the story: Science Olympiad results Top overall finishers included: Toledo High School of Toledo, Wash., first place in high school division (advances to national competition); Ferris High School, second place, high school division; Stanwood Middle School of Stanwood, Wash., first place in middle school division (advances to national competition); Frontier Junior High School of Moses Lake, second place, middle school division.