PCMS places first in WNC Regional Science Olympiad

Published 9:00 pm Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Polk County Middle School Science Olympiad team placed first at regionals. (photo submitted)

The Polk County Middle School Science Olympiad team placed first at regionals. (photo submitted)

Polk County Middle School dominated the Western North Carolina Regional Science Olympiad Tournament at UNC Asheville on Saturday, Feb. 22.
The varsity team placed first in a field of 13 middle schools with five golds, three silvers and four bronzes. The junior varsity also placed first with 12 golds, four silvers and four bronzes.
PCMS competed with young scientists from 13 middle schools and 10 high schools in Western North Carolina. The school will advance to the state tournament on April 25 – 26 in Raleigh, N.C. said Elisa Flynn, team coach and science teacher.
“They had to work hard for it,” Flynn said. “I love working with these kids and they love science. They get to choose their own events, and it’s something they enjoy. ”
The NC Science Olympiad encourages students to pursue studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by finding the joy of learning science. Students competed in 23 events, Flynn said.
Taylor Warren and Drew Bailey placed first in Sounds of Music, in which the teams built two instruments, performed major scales and played a selected tune and a second tune. Jeremiah Johnson and Eli Edwards placed first in Elastic-Launched Glider. Their team built a glider to certain specifications, flew the longest and kept flight logs.
LeighAnna Ivette and Mervin Graber placed first in Road Scholar, which required extensive skills in cartography and the ability to read and understand USGS maps. Hayden Gary and Dietrich Jackson placed first in Wheeled Vehicles. They designed, built and tested a vehicle using a non-metallic elastic solid for propulsion. Melanie Metcalf and Luke Rogers placed first in It Matters, in which students had to answer numerous questions and show an extensive knowledge base about the properties of matter.
In some competitions, such as Mission Possible, participants designed, built, tested and documented a device that can complete a sequence of consecutive energy transfers. In others, such as Mystery Architecture, teams received a set of mystery materials and a challenge to complete, such as building a boat, cantilever or catapult. The teams did not know until the competition what they will be asked to do.
All varsity team members qualified for state. Those team members are Drew Bailey, Luke Collins, Eli Edwards, Leighanna Evette, Haley Fowler, Hayden Gary, Conner Holtz, Dietrich Jackson, Jeremie Johnson, John Lucas Kornmyer, Carson Marshall, Sara McCown, Melanie Metcalf, Zoe Parsons, Luke Rogers, Isaac Smith, Taylor Warren, and Mervin Graber.
“They all were dedicated, and they worked hard,” Flynn said. “They worked to learn in class and also after school with adult advocates in the community.”
JV who qualified for state from Polk County Middle School are Evan McCarthy and Izzy Jackson for Dynamic Planet, which required knowledge of earth science; Bailey Loman and Sadie Allen for Solar Systems, which featured knowledge of properties and evolution of extraterrestrial ice and water; and Gabe Petoia and Jackson Hanson for Boomilever, in which students built a cantilevered wooden structure with the greatest possible efficiency.
“To qualify for state from junior varsity, the students had to place first overall in their event over the varsity and everybody else from 22 other schools,” Flynn said.
Polk County High School placed third in the high school division, with much larger Asheville High School and McDowell High School taking the first and second place positions.
Polk County Early College participated as well. Other middle schools in the top places were Fairview School, Evergreen Community Charter School, and Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy
“I think we were the smallest participating middle school,” Flynn said.
Schools competing were A.C. Reynolds Middle and High Schools, Bowman Middle School, Asheville High School, Carolina Day School, Charles D. Owen Middle and High Schools, Clyde A. Erwin Middle School, East McDowell Junior High School, Evergreen Community Charter School, Fairview School, Flat Rock Middle School, Henderson County Early College High School, McDowell High School, The Mountain Community School, North Buncombe High School, Polk County Middle and High Schools, Polk County Early College High School, Smoky Mountain High School, Rugby Middle School, T.C. Roberson High School, Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, and West McDowell Junior High.
Last year, more than 700 K-12 teams, composed of 12,000 students, participated from 65 North Carolina counties. The Olympiad began in the nation in 1974. This year marked the third year of participation for Polk County Middle School. They placed third two years ago.
“We want to carry on the tradition,” Flynn said. “It was awesome.”
Volunteers from UNC Asheville, Sud Associates Consulting Engineers, the National Climatic Data Center, Western Piedmont Community College, Catawba Valley Community College, NEMAC (National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center), McDowell Technical Community College, NC Community Colleges BioNetwork worked to staff the Olympiad.

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