Saturday, March 7, 2015

6th Grade Science Olympiad

When I started 6th grade, along with the other activities and groups I joined, I entered Science Olympiad. I was told to go to scioly.org and select some of the projects I would like to participate in. I chose Elastic Launch glider, Road Scholar, Building Bridges, Air Trajectory, Wheeled Vehicle, and Bottle Rocket. When I presented Mr. Curella with this, he said that doing 2 events was enough. He selected Road Scholar and Wheeled Vehicle for me. I later found out that he chose Road Scholar since it was the only Test event that was on my list, and he chose Wheeled Vehicle since I was the only person in my team and division (6th grade) that wanted to do Wheeled Vehicle.

More pictures and video below:

In the months that followed Science Olympiad was slow. I asked Mr. Curella why I was by myself and didn’t have a partner in either group. I asked him what materials I could use to build my Vehicle, and what I could do to study for road scholar. And every single time his answer was give me a minute, I am working with the 7th and 8th graders. Instead of going once a week on either Wednesday or Thursday,  I started going once a month. I didn't get any work done, since I had no idea what to work with. I could and would build a wheeled vehicle by myself, but I didn’t know where the wood was and every time I asked, I was told to give Mr. Curella a minute. I had been given a study guide for Road Scholar, but the preview on scioly.org of what I was supposed to have didn't match with what I was given. In addition, the guide had been photocopied, and was almost indecipherable, and when I could understand it there was a lot about Hercules. I asked Mr. Curella, and I was told again to give him a minute, since he was working with the 7th and 8th graders.

Around February things started to change. Science Olympiad’s deadline is in April. We started acting like a kid who finishes dinner, and then remembers he has hours of homework ahead of him, and an early bedtime. Now, Mr. Curella was even busier, since more kids were remembering Science Olympiad, and asking him questions. This meant that Mr. Curella started paying attention to us, and I got my questions answered. Over time, I found out that Mr. Curella for some reason didn’t have access to the Road Scholar Guides. I was told to buy maps of Washington and Oregon for Road Scholar. I was given a sample Wheeled Vehicle, and a bin full of materials. I also found out about my partner. Apparently, no one wanted to be in the sections I had been in. I had been assigned a partner, but my partner hadn’t signed up for my activities. He was there because Science Olympiad required a partnership, but he wouldn’t help me with my project, and he would be absent for my event on the day of presentation.

That day I was annoyed. In a sense that was the last straw that broke the camel's back. On the other hand, putting someone in a fake group, is cheating. Also my friend is likely to leave, and then I will be unable to participate. Now it was February, and we couldn’t change the groups, so what could we do? I went home and talked with my parents, and we agreed to call Mr. Curella. I also found out that the maps we had spent 30 dollars on, were not required. Those 30 dollars were a waste of money.

That night Mom, Dad and I called Mr. Curella. We explained the situation with the maps, and he agreed that we deserved a refund, and bought the maps from us for the price we bought them for. We discussed the wheeled vehicle partnership, and Mr. Curella explained that there was a new option for me to go solo. I agreed, and we discussed that at the beginning of the year I should have spent more time picking a partner and less time picking subjects. At the end of the call we all agreed that it went well.

The next two months I came to Science Olympiad once a week. I built up my wheeled vehicle, and occasionally found and studied guides for Road Scholar. I fine tuned my car for distances of about 8 ft. I could land my car on a 3 inch circle about 8 ft in front of the release area. I found out I needed 25 windups of the pole attached to the rubber band that powered the vehicle.

The day of the presentation I was really excited. I handed in my wheeled vehicle and as I checked they informed that I had the option to get extra points if I put the marker in the front of my wheeled vehicle. I ran upstairs with Mr. Curella to our home base. We glued down a new marker and replaced the old one. We got back to the check-in at the last possible minute, and got the points. I walked around for most of the day with friends. I went to the popular events to watch, ate lunch and had a good time.

Finally it was time for my events. Road Scholar was first. It was very open and friendly, more than I had expected. It was really hard though and I did pretty poorly. Next was Wheeled Vehicle. I had to get my wheeled vehicle to go eleven feet or 32 rotations. I did better than most people, but I didn’t make it to the leader board. I had a great time that day.