Calculating a win: Science Olympiad

Published 10:06 am Thursday, April 28, 2011

Left: PCHS junior Cade Underwood tests a powder with hydrochloric acid. Underwood and teammate Jacob Hrobak, also a junior, placed third in forensics. Underwood also placed first in chemistry lab with partner Cole Pellatt. Right: Polk County High School sophomore Julia Murray and junior David Carr work to construct a tower for the upcoming Science Olympiad state finals. The two placed third at regionals. (photos by Samantha Hurst)

Team goes to state competition April 30
Polk County High School’s Science Olympiad team recently calculated its way into a ninth return to the state competition.
Team members brought home top honors from the Western Regional Science Olympiad Competition held March 19 at UNC at Asheville. The team will travel to the state competition at North Carolina State University on April 30.
Coaches Jennifer Allsbrook and Greg Robinson were proud of what they said is a young team with only one senior member. Robinson gives the credit to the kids and Allsbrook.
“She and the kids had that ‘don’t give up’ attitude,” Robinson said. “They didn’t give up and that’s what made the difference. Polk County students have that stick to it and get it done mindset.”
The day of the regional competition Allsbrook had two students drop out, leaving her scrambling to make sure all 24 events were covered. She had already lost 10 seniors after graduation last year. But the team got it done.
“That’s part of what science is all about – problem solving,” Allsbrook said.
Students captured medals in 16 of the 24 events they competed in during the event.
Sophomore Julia Murray was one of several students who had to fill a role at the last minute. She and teammate David Carr placed third in tower building.
“We learn from experience,” Murray said. “We watch as a tower breaks and pay attention to its weak points. The great thing about our team is that everybody is willing to help each other.”
Allsbrook said she’ll be proud of her students regardless of where they place at state. Last year they placed 16 out of 45 teams, many of which came from schools surrounded by more technological resources, Allsbrook said.
“We’re rural Polk County, we aren’t in the middle of the research hub,” Allsbrook said. “So the success we’ve had speaks to our children and their preparation.”
Much of that preparation, the willingness to spend hours outside of the classroom training for their various competitions, has also had a profound affect on several students.
Junior Cole Pellatt has changed his mind about the potential career path he might follow once in college.
“I thought I wanted to go into English but now I’m really considering engineering because of the things I’ve learned,” Pellatt said.
Pellatt won gold medals in chemistry lab and bottle rockets at regionals.
Jacob Hrobak finds himself affected by his experiences as well. He once thought surgery was his dream but now after spending some time examining DNA, fibers and fingerprints, he said a job in forensics has piqued his interest.
Students earning medals included:
• Gold in chemistry lab for Cole Pellatt and Cade Underwood
• Silver in optics for David Carr and Jacob Hrobak
• Bronze in dynamic planet for Cade Underwood and Makenzie McCool
• Bronze in forensics for Cade Underwood and Jacob Hrobak
• Silver in fossils for Reina Kornmayer and Caley Modlin
• Silver in mouse trap vehicle for Cade Underwood and Grace Murray
• Silver in mission possible for Reina Kornmayer, Andrew Lee and Makenzie McCool
• Gold in storm the castle for Brenna Wilson and Isys Hennigar
• Bronze in microbe mission for Cole Pellatt and Michael Bell
• Silver for remote sensing for Cole Pellatt and Jacob Hrobak
• Gold in bottle rocket for Cole Pellatt and Michael Bell
• Gold for mystery architecture for Andrew Lee and Alex Gomez
• Bronze in tower for David Carr and Julia Murray
• Gold in food science for David Carr and Grace Murray
• Bronze in sounds of music for Andrew Lee and Alex Gomez
• Silver in experimental design for Brenna Wilson and Isys Hennigar
Coaches Allsbrook and Robinson said the trip to Raleigh for state finals costs the school about $1,000 and they always welcome donations from community members willing to help further the additional education students receive by participating in Science Olympiad.

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