Eagle Valley and Carson middle schools took second and third place overall in the Science Olympiad in Las Vegas recently, beaten only by a first-place team from the Clark County School District that specializes in science and math.
"The kids did awesome," said Carson Middle School science teacher Mary Stanley. "We had it together this year. We pushed them hard. We're looking forward to next year."
Carson Middle won more first places in the Olympiad's 23 events than Eagle Valley Middle School, but Eagle Valley scored fifth place or better in every event, putting the school ahead of Carson Middle by seven points. Eagle Valley finished three points behind the first-place team.
"The kids had EA written on their wrists for Eric Anderson," said Eagle Valley health teacher Amy Kehler. "The kids wanted to do it for him."
Anderson was a science teacher at the school and helped his students achieve first place overall in the first four years of the Olympiad, a science-oriented competition with several categories ranging from written tests to experiments. Last year, Eagle Valley won third overall. Anderson died in October from an illness. Also this year, Eagle Valley won the sportsmanship award, which was awarded for the first time.
"I've never seen a group of kids in my 31 years of teaching be there for each other like you were," said seventh-grade science teacher Chris Whitcome as the students gathered for an after-school celebration Thursday. "Just about halfway through the award ceremony, guess who I felt was there with us?"
"Mr. Anderson," the students chimed together.
At Carson Middle School, the feeling was also one of elation. Seventh-graders Robbie Ardinger and Wes Dietlein took first place in Robo-Billiards at the Olympiad, something that was a far cry from happening the year before.
"We had to build a machine able to grab the pool balls and put them in the pockets," Robbie said. "I was feeling very nervous because I didn't know how everybody else was doing."
Their original plan for a billiards-pushing bulldozer changed after the two struggled with its speed. They ended up with a multi-directional three-wheeled vehicle that catches two balls at a time when its overhead arm comes down with a plastic dish. Only once during the competition did the boys think they were in trouble.
"It was when the so-called lucky number 7 rolled of the table," Wes said.
Neither of them went for the ball because they'd lose points. Their classmate Michael Smith also won a first place in the forestry competition, for which he memorized more than 70 types of trees, their scientific names and economic uses.
"It felt great because I got first place in the entire state of Nevada," he said.
n Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at email@example.com or 881-1219.
First-place wins by Eagle Valley Middle School
• Ryjul Stokes and John Sousa, "Reach for the Stars"
• Dominick Caponi and Michael Montiel in "Science Crime Busters"
• Maiya Gessling and John Sousa, "Stars of Music"
First-place wins by Carson Middle School
• Wesley Deitlein and Robert Ardinger, "Bottle Rocket" and "Robo-Billiards"
• Michael Smith, 'Forestry"
• Brian Foss and Elizabeth Menke, "Process Skills for Life Science"
• Matthew Byrd, "Storm the Castle"
• Matthew Byrd and Evan Richards, "Wright Stuff"