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Junior high competes in Olympiad

Education: Ranch Pico students bring home five awards in second year of competing at competition

Posted: April 19, 2010 11:03 p.m.
Updated: April 20, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Rancho Pico Junior High School's Science Olympiad team shows off its medals won during the 23rd regional Science Olympiad competition.

 
A junior high student’s body contains about 60,000 miles of blood vessels.

A human heart will beat approximately 2.5 billion times during an average lifetime of 75 years.

These are some facts that Rancho Pico Junior High School students like Jamie Myer may have studied while preparing for the 23rd regional Science Olympiad.

Thirty-four junior high schools around Los Angeles County gathered on March 6 to compete in events such as “The Wright Stuff,” “Anatomy,” “Physical Science” and “Compute This.”

In only their second year competing, Rancho Pico’s students brought home two second-place medals and three third-place medals.

The Science Olympiad is a nationwide campaign designed to develop interest in science by creating challenges for students to overcome.

There are three divisions to the Science Olympiad: elementary school, junior high school and high school.

Each section features different aspects of science and math and becomes more advanced at each level.

The Rancho Pico team trained for two months for the competition, with a total of 21 students.

Five team members, now eighth-graders, had competed in the previous year’s Olympiad.

Cindy Wilken and Lilex Balmonte, the team’s coaches, made students work independently, only assisting when problems arose.

“Science is all about problem-solving,” Wilken said. “Students learn that sometimes a bad experiment ends up being a big learning experience.”

One project that was the most memorable for the Rancho Pico team was the “The Wright Stuff” project, in which they had to build an airplane from a box of supplies with no directions.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Jamie Myers, a seventh-grader on the Rancho Pico team. “It was really time-consuming, but (the plane) flew better at the competition than when we tested it at school.”

Their airplane took 11th place, which Jamie said was pretty good considering how hard the assignment was.

“I definitely plan on (competing) again,” she said.

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