Macomb Science Olympiad tests young students at Warren’s MCC campus – Macomb Daily
Some 2,000 budding scientists, engineers and doctors converged at the Macomb Community College South Campus Saturday to compete in the 36th annual Macomb Science Olympiad for elementary students. The competition had a two-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic.
Fifty-nine teams from 50 schools across Macomb and St. Clair counties spent the day competing in 17 different events that challenged the participants in several areas of science. There are two divisions; K-5 and K-6, and some schools opted to send two teams to the competition.
“Teams typically form in January and are practicing for the different events right up until today’s competition,” said event supervisor Michael Sikorski.
For young engineers, the precision ping pong propulsion event was extremely popular. Teams use their creativity to build what they believe will be the best device to launch ping pong balls into a plastic wading pool. They get points for balls that hit the target and bonuses if they can land a ping pong ball in the bucket placed in the center of the pool.
“You see a lot of teams will use a catapult type of design where others will use some kind of air compression to launch the ball,” said Sikorski.
Devices were made from a variety of materials including wood, pc pipe, bungee cords, and bicycle pumps.
Outside on the MCC track, teams were launching their water rockets in hopes they would travel enough of a distance to earn a Science Olympiad award. Fashioned from two-liter plastic bottles and any number of items to make the bottle more aerodynamic, each rocket was attached to a small parachute. To be successful, the parachute needs to open shortly after being launched so that the wind can carry the rocket for a distance before it drifts to the ground.
Several teams fought with getting the parachute to open quickly enough due to tangled parachute suspension lines.
“Tangled strings!” said one young observer while shaking his head. “It’s the worst way to go down!”
Inside the steamy MCC fieldhouse, teams tested their physics knowledge in the crash car eggspert event, which required them to use materials given to them to create protection for two eggs that were placed on a small, wheeled cart. The challenge was to send the cart with the eggs down increasing steep tracks without breaking the eggs.
Many of the competitive events challenged the student’s knowledge, memory and calculation skills. The A is for anatomy challenge asked students to identify anatomical structures of the human skeletal, muscular and respiratory systems while the rock hound challenge asked young geologists to identify various rocks and minerals and answer questions about them.
Sikorski runs the zowie estimation challenge, which asks students to use math skills to estimate mass in grams, volume in cubic centimeters, and to estimate the number of objects in a container. For Saturday’s competition, each team had to guess the number of pasta pieces in plastic containers. One held egg noodles, one had elbow macaroni, and one had orzo pasta.
“I thought the orzo would be very challenging because it is so small,” said Sikorski. “We provide pencils and calculators, but there are no measuring devices allowed to figure out the different calculations. They just have to make their best estimate.”
According to Sikorski, there were 17,000 pieces of orzo in the container.
When the day’s events were completed, awards were distributed. In the K-6 division, Utica Roberts Elementary edged Utica Messmore Elementary by four points to earn a first-place trophy. Utica Beacon Tree was third followed by Fraser Disney Elementary, Liberty Homeschool, Sterling Heights Plumbrook Elementary and Fraser Edison Elementary.
In the K-5 division, L’anse Creuse’s Higgins Elementary took home first-place hardware followed by Marysville Gardens, Washington, Chippewa Valley Mohawk, Chippewa Valley Cheyenne, Chippewa Valley Miami, and Chippewa Valley Shawnee.