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Coupeville techies compete in Science Olympiad

Larry Hurlburt, left, Cassidi Rosenkrance and Amanda d’Almeida fine-tune a Rube Goldberg machine required for the event Mission Possible in the Science Olympiad. - Photo courtesy of Dan d
Larry Hurlburt, left, Cassidi Rosenkrance and Amanda d’Almeida fine-tune a Rube Goldberg machine required for the event Mission Possible in the Science Olympiad.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Dan d'Almeida

A different kind of Olympics took place for some students at Coupeville High School.

Using brain power instead of muscle power, more than a dozen high schoolers recently competed in the Science Olympiad for the first time. They earned a respectable ninth-place finish out of 25 teams, which was just one place short of being able to move on to the state competition.

The Science Olympiad allows a team of students to compete with other schools in the region in a variety of events that highlight scientific skills including biology, engineering and math.

“It gives a kid a chance to compare where they are in scientific knowledge,” said Dan d’Almeida, math and materials science teacher who is also coach for the Science Olympiad.

Students competing in Science Olympiad were Sam Landau, Amanda d’Almeida, Taya Patty, Esteban Hernandez, Rachel Parker, Nate Foote, Cassidi Rosenkrance, Dylan Tack, Larry Hurlburt, Andre Stone, Lance Kidder, Tess Sawatzki, Tyler Boonstra and Isaac Wacker.

His efforts to start Science Olympiad at the high school began about about a year ago, d’Almeida said. He started by contacting several universities about how useful such programs are for students. He learned that events in the Olympiad help students validate the skills they learn in the classroom, which can provide encouragement to major in a technical discipline in college.

The Science Olympiad offered 23 events at the regional competition is held at Seattle Central Community College. For example, students had to produce a mouse-trap-powered vehicle, build a rocket that could launch and safely return an egg or build a balsa wood bridge that could stand up under 45 pounds of weight.

The students basically placed seventh in each of the engineering-related events, d’Almeida said. The Coupeville students performed best in anatomy and physiology and ornithology, earning third-place honors in each event.

The teacher cited the efforts of a half dozen or so community volunteers that helped prep the team for the competition. Residents with expertise in chemistry, health care, birds and engineering helped students hone their skills in the months leading up to the competition.

He credited their efforts as for the reason the team performed so well at the regional competition. When he formed the team, he hoped students would qualify for the state competition in four years. However, given the positive performance at the regional competition, he’s increased his expectations.

“My goal is to make state next year,” d’Almeida said.

He should have a strong team as the majority of the Science Olympiads are underclassman, with only one senior graduating in June.

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