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Students don thinking caps

KINGSTON — Bundles of creative minds buzzed inside of Kingston Junior High Tuesday night. Outside, the popularity of the seven-school Science Olympics was evident with parked cars stretching a half-mile in either direction of the school.

Each October, the elementary school community gathers for the games. Students come with strategy in mind to construct the object they will be competing with. Materials are provided to classrooms a month in advance to allow students time to explore the project and work with different variables that factor in, said Science Olympics co-organizer Peggy Bullock.

“When they come to the Science Olympics, they start from scratch,” Bullock said. “But they come with a game plan.”

Spread out in both gyms and the commons, the kids built their projects and put them to the test. It was the biggest turnout Science Olympic co-organizer Lillian Cole had seen in her 10-years helping with the event.

“(The Olympics) focuses kids on science in a fun way,” Cole said. “The teachers love it and the kids love it, too.”

Using the scientific method of guessing and checking, the kindergarten contestants had to hypothesize which objects would float and which would sink in their experiments.

Kindergartner Tess Baldwin of Vinland Elementary took first in the event.

First-graders put their minds to ancient task of shipbuilding — albeit on a miniature level. Students made boats out of aluminum foil, testing which could stay afloat as a metal washer cargo was added.

Gordon Elementary first-grader Chloe Gelpieryn’s boat held the most for first place; Riley Martin and Sarah Page took second and third respectively.

Second-grade pairs took an architectural aim at building paper bridges for their part in the contest. The bridges were tested by washers collected in a paper cup, which was then supported by the bridge.

Poulsbo’s Natalie Myer and Odalis Duran combined their efforts to build the sturdiest bridge out of paper and tape. Wolfle’s Anthony Stien and Miles Brundage took second and Austin Page and Isabelle Cloward (Poulsbo) took third.

The third grade competition covered the longest lengths. Students manufactured two-wheelers out of paper plates with pencil axles, testing which could roll furthest.

Wolfle’s Lexi Anthony’s contraption rolled furthest, Sam Torstenbo of Vinland came in second.

Fourth-graders launched marshmallows in the cafeteria using paper cup catapults. It was a challenge not only to construct the machine but also to send the marshmallows airborne.

Suquamish students August Rodriguez and Tyler Billings mastered the furthest flight for first place.

The fifth and sixth graders also took on the roll of engineers in the main gym, teaming up to fabricate tiny bridges out of straws and tape. To determine which could withstand the most pressure, the straw construction was put to the test by an eraser.

Erik Thomson-Hale and Ian Christen of Suquamish built the sturdiest bridge, Zachary Parker and Devon Jacob (Gordon) came in second.

Sixth graders challenged their brains by creating towers out of the material that broke the camel’s back. The goal was to build the tallest tower that could hold substantial weight. Students earned points for the height and for weight supported.

“This was the best year for the towers,” Bullock mentioned. “We took out some of the rules, let the kids have at it, and they built some amazing structures.”

Poulsbo’s Michael Gilman and Trevor Waller took first in the competition, Bonnie Foley of Suquamish took second. Third place was shared by a three-way tie.

“This is a great kick-off for the year,” Bullock said. “It’s an informal use of the scientific method that feels more like play. But students are still isolating variables and solving problems using the materials.”

The Elementary Science Olympics have been a yearly function in Kitsap County since 1984.

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