Steamboat science students score high, advance to state competition |

Steamboat science students score high, advance to state competition

Teresa Ristow
Steamboat Springs High School freshman Gabe Rabanal and junior Ethan Moyer took second place last weekend in the robot arm category at a regional Science Olympian competition.
Teresa Ristow

Teams finishing in top half

2nd in Robot Arm: Ethan Moyer, Gabe Rabanal

4th in Write It Do It: Charles Leech, Addison Sandvik

7th in Anatomy/Physiology: Jennie Adler, Soria Rabanal

7th in Electric Vehicle: Jacob Gilbertson, Aubrey Morrison

7th in Forensics: Charles Leech, Sarah Nilsson

7th in Hovercraft: Shay Adamo, Eric Casey

7th in Remote Sensing: Patrick Dillon, Ethan Hansen

8th in Ecology: Jennie Adler, Zoe Stewart

8th in HydroGeology: Eric Casey, Kari Saunders

8th in Invasive Species: James Berntsen, Sarah Nilsson

9th in Astronomy: Liz Ruzicka, Macayla Scheidt

9th in Experimental Design: James Berntsen, Noah Heckel, Liz Ruzicka

9th in Helicopters: Gabe Rabanal, Macayla Scheidt

— Inside a downstairs science classroom Thursday, freshman Gabe Rabanal used a set of controls to move an attached robotic arm.

With the tool, he could pick up a chocolate milk container and lift it toward his mouth, steal something from a classmate’s lunchbox or move multiple pennies from one location to a designated bullseye.

It was the latter of the demonstrations that earned Rabanal and junior Ethan Moyer a silver medal last weekend at the regional Science Olympiad competition in Fort Collins.

“You tried to pick up as many pennies as you could and move them into the bullseye,” Rabanal said. “It’s hard to move them around.”

Students were scored on the number of pennies moved and earned extra points for flipping the coins from head to tails during the trials.

The students were using a robot arm they designed in class beginning in January, with help from Diane Maltby, a Steamboat Springs Middle School robotics teacher who also volunteers with the high school’s Science Olympiad team.

For the competition, Rabanal and Moyer each had a turn to move as many pennies as possible from five stacks of 10 pennies each in less than three minutes.

The students aren’t sure who scored better in their trial, but together, the duo beat out more than 20 teams from high schools throughout Northern Colorado.

The two were among 33 Steamboat Springs High School students on three teams to compete in the regional competition, which included categories such as forensics, hovercraft, astronomy, experimental design and helicopters.

About 20 Steamboat students competing in 13 categories placed among the top half of competitors in their given categories, and those will be the students given the first chance to attend the state competition in April, according to teacher Charlie Leech.

It’s only the sixth time in 13 years the school has qualified for state, Leech said.

Leech commended students for their efforts during a lunchtime meeting Thursday and passed out certificates from the competition.

The students will now begin to revamp their projects for the state competition, which takes place at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden April 15.

Leech said he is always seeking adults interested in science to volunteer to help students with the projects. Contact him at

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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