MVI Students Training for Science Olympiad

  • Press photo/Jake Browning - Students practice their assembly skills in preparation for the “Pasta Tower” event.
    Press photo/Jake Browning – Students practice their assembly skills in preparation for the “Pasta Tower” event.


Astronomy, geology and mechanical engineering may not be Olympic events, but there are plenty of Macon County science students who still aspire to bring home the gold.

Students at Mountain View Intermediate School are currently preparing for the Science Olympiad, a series of scientific competitions for schools all around North Carolina. Fifth-grade teacher Samantha Bullis will be taking her team of 23 students to Buncombe County later this month to compete in 19 different events.

“All of the events are about critical thinking, communication, problem solving and having a can-do attitude,” Bullis said.

The scope of the competition covers a wide variety of scientific fields. Some of the kids will perform experiments on mystery substances to determine what compounds they are in the “Super Sleuths” event, while others will try to achieve the longest hang time for a makeshift rocket in “3, 2, 1, Blast Off!” and yet others will program functioning video games on a time limit in “ProGamers.” Whichever team earns the most combined points from all the events will be declared the winner.

Students said they are enjoying the sense of progress that comes from being part of the team. Science Olympiad is an after-school club with no curriculum requirements, but many of the kids feel that training for their events and doing better in school go hand in hand.

“We’re having a good time,” said Abigail Brenner, a fifth-grader studying meteorology for the “Weather Permitting” event. “The weather instruments are kind of confusing, but we studied this all through the fall and winter, so we’re getting used to it.”

Parent volunteers are essential to the team’s success. At any given practice, they can be seen giving advice on how to stack pasta noodles into the strongest tower, or helping to assemble ramps to test model cars. Amanda Maxwell is happy to help, especially when it means seeing her daughter thrive in a learning environment.

“Her love for science has grown,” Maxwell said. “I think it’s opening her up to so many opportunities that she didn’t know were there before.”

Bullis agreed with that sentiment and is proud to see the kids making the most of their academic potential.

“It helps the kids realize new capabilities,” Bullis said. “They’re already very smart and they’re still open to learning more.”

The Buncombe County Science Olympiad will be held all morning at Charles D. Owen High School in Black Mountain on Saturday, March 23.

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