Teetering two feet from the ground, the white bucket hung from a thin, wood device and continued to be filled with sand. With an unceremonious snap, the sand filled bucket hit the ground with wood chips splattered across the ground.
But as Donna Tolman and Caleb Bringherst stared at their now destroyed creation, they had a good feeling that even though their boomilever broke under the weight of the bucket it held more weight than the average student being tested on Saturday, March 1 at Southern Utah University’s Regional Science Olympiad.
The boomilever was just one of 48 events at Saturday’s Olympiad that 250 middle school and high school students competed in. For the past several months teams from schools across southern Utah and northern Arizona have worked to build the best bottle rocket, memorize the most body parts or understand the most chemistry, all culminating in Saturday’s regional contest, preparing them for the state and then national competitions.
“Working in teams and competing in various STEM related events such as chemistry, biology, physics, engineering, technology and math, these young students were able to connect with industry leaders and college students, giving them a taste of what college life truly is,” said Laurel Dogion, academic enhancement coordinator.
This annual event is a time for students with knack for chemistry, astronomy or physiology to be tested on their favorite subject. Most teams began meeting months in advance, to allow extra time to soak up the necessary knowledge.
“This competition is what I look forward to every year,” said Bringherst, a ninth grader from Desert Hills Middle School in St. George, Utah. “I’m not very good at sports so instead I tinker with computers. I actually have taken a part all of my parent’s old computers, now I just need to put them back together.”
Bringherst, who wants to be an engineer when he grows up, is like many of these young scientists who look forward to the Olympiad every year to be tested on earthly matters such as geology or experiment with something more celestial such as astronomy.
After the 48 events ended that afternoon, medals were handed out to the top performers in each events and top teams within the two age divisions — Ephraim Middle School, Snow Canyon Middle School, Cedar City High School — advanced to the state competition, which will be conducted in April at the University of Utah.