Sports and Schools

Science students prep for Olympiad

A small group of student scientists at Coupeville High School are busy seeing how they measure up with their contemporaries across the region.

The students, members of Coupeville’s Science Olympiad, are busy rebuilding vehicles, tweaking experiments, and memorizing equations to perform better in an upcoming regional competition  scheduled in March. Before that, however, residents and parents can see their projects and experiments during a community night scheduled 5:30 p.m. Wednesday Feb. 27, at the Coupeville Middle School and High School Commons.

Coupeville High School science teacher Dan d’Almeida said Science Olympiad offers a variety of activities that are “in-line with what’s going on in society.”

The competition provides a “higher opportunity” for students interested in science and engineering, d’Almeida said. Science Olympiad helps students refine their skills before going on to college.

Eighteen students compete in Science Olympiad and they are updating their projects after competing in an invitational that was held recently at Aviation High School in Des Moines. They placed 10th out of 22 teams.

Students Kelsey Pape and Briess Potter are tackling a gravity project, which entails building a vehicle that rolls down a near-vertical ramp and then has to stop within a specified spot. They are rebuilding their machines after their sixth-place performance at the invitational.

“I did it last year and I spent so much time on it,” Potter said. “As a senior, it would be so cool to win it.”

Pape and Potter were busy installing roller blade wheels to their vehicle in hopes of improving their performance. The wheels had rubber bands wrapped around them for friction.

Sophomore Geoff McClarin and freshman Dawson d’Almeida were busy during a recent visit fine tuning their Maglev project where a tiny vehicle levitates over a track and is powered by fans.

Junior Brandon Kelly is using yak hair for a thermodynamics project to control the temperature of water.

Several students — Manuel Lopez-Santillana, Jared Dickson and Ben Haigt — were also busy getting tutored by volunteer John Burks on equilibrium constants and periodic constants so to prepare for an event at the Olympiad. Dickson and Haigt also had their boomilever, which is one of the 23 events in the Science Olympiad, close by and they were thinking of ways to improve their design.

Burks said the concepts are ones that would be covered in a first-year chemistry class.

dDAlmeida highlighted the community volunteers who help the contestants every year. He mentioned that some of the experts that give their time work in county offices.

For more information about Science Olympiad, go to


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