Science Olympiad students place 12th in state competition |

Science Olympiad students place 12th in state competition

Zach Fridell

Steamboat Springs High School Science Olympiad members Ryan Hogrefe, left, and Christian Piorot, along with sponsor Charlie Leech, center, take a look at a rocket built by the students at the state Science Olympiad competition Saturday. The team took 12th place in the state.

— Problem-solving is part of the routine for students in the Science Olympiad club at Steamboat Springs High School, but team members had to test their creativity in new ways Saturday at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden.

The team placed nine groups in the top 10 in a variety of events at the state contest and finished 12th overall.

When seniors Jonathan Mellor, Seth Davidson and Leo Starbuck ran into a problem with their electric car, they knew they had to get inventive.

First, team members realized they forgot to bring a piece of cable from Steamboat to the competition. That required a call to an obliging father, who drove the necessary part to the team.

But the problems were far from over.

“Well, it didn’t work, to put it simply,” Mellor said.

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The team designed a custom-built chassis and programmed a microcontroller from scratch, forgoing the pre-programmed models other teams used. But when it came time for the small rubber tires to meet the small wooden road, the team found the gears weren’t grabbing the belts to turn the wheels.

Team members tried everything they could think of, including using a dipstick from the school bus to drop lubricating oil, Davidson said.

The team worked up until 8:45 a.m. the day of the competition, just before the 9 a.m. “impound” for all vehicles.

Despite their efforts and an estimated 200 hours of work time since the regional competition March 7, the electric car team failed to place at the state level.

“A couple more hours, and we would have had it,” Mellor said.

The team of seniors Kelsey Pierson and Blaise Holden fared better in the multiple-choice Health Sciences test. Holden and Pierson placed third in their event, the highest placement for a Steamboat team. Steamboat placed 12th out of 27 teams.

Freshman Christian Poirot and sophomore Ryan Hogrefe placed seventh in the inaugural Junkyard Challenge. In that competition, the students constructed a scale with a set of “junkyard” components and a mystery object. They then had to measure the mass of a given object as accurately as possible.

Poudre High School took top honors at the competition, with four teams from the district placing in the top 10 overall. The district offers a Science Olympiad class for students.

– To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208 or e-mail

Science Olympiad results

Steamboat Springs High School

3rd place – Health Science: Kelsey Pierson, Blaise Holden

4th place – Chemistry Lab: Pierson, Stefan Palmer

5th place – Forensics: Hannah Beggs, Jessie Dunlop

6th place – Dynamic Planet: Holden, Palmer

7th place – Ecology: Bobby Glass, Jeff Sperry

7th place – Junkyard Challenge: Christian Poirot, Ryan Hogrefe

8th place – Picture This: Beggs, Pierson, Kayla Stack

9th place – It’s About Time: Stack, Poirot

10th place – Elevated Bridge: Stack, Poirot

The team placed 12th overall.