Madison Rixe, left, and McKenzie Meyer give a demonstration of the helicopter event at the Coupeville school board meeting last month. Rixe and Meyer are among 13 Coupeville High School students who will participate in the Science Olympiad state competition at Highline College April 15. Photo by Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

Coupeville High sends 13 to state Science Olympiad

Mitchell Carroll gets a rush from soaring as a track athlete at Coupeville High School whether it be in the pole vault or jumping events.

Academic challenges can ignite a similar spark.

“I’ve experienced this phenomenon a lot of people call a designer’s high — like when you have a project or a problem put in front of you, you just can’t get it out of your mind and you’re trying to think of solutions,” said Carroll, a Coupeville senior who plans to study mechanical engineering in college. “And that’s the thing that I enjoy is being presented with problems like the electric vehicle and trying to make it stop or whatever, mulling it over and trying to come up with a solution.”

Carroll is part of a team of 13 technically-minded students from Coupeville that has qualified for the state Science Olympiad competition at Highline College in Des Moines Saturday.

Science Olympiad is a team event in which students compete in various scientific disciplines from earth science to physics to engineering.

Coupeville finished fifth at a regional competition at the University of Washington to qualify for the state event for only the second time.

Success is measured by knowledge assessments about certain disciplines, combined with the ability to apply that knowledge by designing and building certain devices that perform specific tasks.

“The reason this team is going is they worked really hard on their test events and they brought their test scores up and they really performed strongly in the build events,” said Neil Rixe, a parent volunteer who shares head-coaching responsibilities with high school teacher Catherine Berg.

Other teachers and community volunteers also have been deeply involved, providing guidance.

The students build then test small gadgets and other things such as a battery-powered vehicle that is stopped by a braking system made of a spool and twine, a structurally sound wood tower designed to be 1,000 times lighter than the weight it can hold, a helicopter propelled by tightly-wound rubber bands, a battery-powered hover craft and more.

Coupeville earned first place in three events (wind power, hovercraft and game on) at the University of Washington and was runner-up in three others (towers, electric vehicle and robot arm).

Carroll and Nick Dion are senior team captains.

Other state-bound members are: senior Lainey Dickson; juniors Luke Carlson, Sofia Hassapis, McKenzie Meyer and Laurence Boado; sophomores Madison Rixe, Harris Sinclair, Jaschon Bauman, Jakobi Bauman and Josh Robinson; and freshman Anna Dion.

Coupeville High School senior Mitchell Carroll prepares for the towers event that is part of Science Olympiad competition. Carroll is one of 13 Coupeville High School students bound for the state competition at Highline College. Photo by Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

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