Bitterroot students compete at Montana Science Olympiad

Bitterroot students compete at Montana Science Olympiad


Hamilton High School’s Science Olympiad team placed third at the 33rd Annual Montana Science Olympiad state tournament in Bozeman on Nov. 21.

The competition was strong, with 51 high school teams participating. Corvallis High School placed fifth, Florence-Carlton High School placed ninth, Stevensville High School placed 22nd and Victor High School placed 35th.

Out of 57 middle school teams, Corvallis Middle School placed second and Hamilton Middle School placed eighth.

“Hamilton High School continued with its long tradition of excellence in extracurricular science competitions by marking its fourth consecutive year being recognized on the podium as a state medalist team,” said coach Tom Schmit. “Hamilton took the third-place bronze medal in the overall team event. It was an extremely close finish for the top three schools in the state. Out of a total of 658 points, Hamilton High was separated from the first-place team (Helena High) by only nine points.”

The Science Olympiad competition has a variety of events in biology, chemistry, physics, geology and engineering. In addition to the overall team competition, students also compete in individual events and put in many extra hours of study, preparation, and practice for the competition.

The Hamilton High team included Gabe Hoenstine, Olivia Schmit, George Glidden, Sam Bosio, Nastasha Garrison, Bailey Ward, Shelby Cruse, Conner Roundy, Zach Kingston, Sebastian Johnson, Caelen Devall, Jared McGourty, Rio Hammond, and Matt Wilson.

Coaches Schmit and Marie Antonioli said they were impressed with their team.

“It is always amazing to me that so many students step up so willingly to put in the hours of after-school practice required to be competitive in this academic event,” Antonioli said. “We had some students working eight to 10 hours a day prior to competition. Clearly, these are students that are exceptionally passionate about science.”

HHS also had individual event medalists, including seniors Oliva Schmit and Bailey Ward, who won a gold medal for engineering by building a 4.3 gram chinook-style helicopter with the remarkable flight time of one minute and 25 seconds. Sebastian Johnson and Caelen Devall won gold for herpetology (amphibians and reptiles).

“Constructing the mousetrap vehicle was really difficult and sometimes incredibly frustrating, but for some reason I actually loved it,” said Devall.

Conner Roundy and George Glidden won gold for the hovercraft event. They built a levitating device that carried up to 16 rolls of pennies down a 6-foot-long track powered only by a 9-volt battery. Roundy and Glidden also took a written test about related physics concepts.

“My competition gave me a taste of what it’s like to be an engineer - long hours of problem solving and stress,” Roundy said. “I think it was a pretty realistic experience.”

Sebastian Johnson and Rio Hammond took home a silver medal for "Mission Possible" in engineering.

Sam Bosio, Matt Wilson and Jared McGourty scored a bronze medal for experimental design.

Corvallis High School’s Science Olympiad 25-member team placed fifth. The team was coached by Laura Carrasco and Tracy Dickerson with captains Ben Carrasco and Jace Barcus. The team had a strong finish with nine of the varsity events placing in the top ten. CHS also had a junior varsity team who placed three events in the top ten.

Team medalist were: Ben Carrasco and Jace Barcus- third place – helicopters; Grant Martin and Nick Spinetta - third place – astronomy; Amanda Boulman and Bridger Cole - tied for second place - mousetrap vehicle; and Kailen Herbstritt and Lucas Jarrett (JV)- tied for second place - mousetrap vehicle. Team top finisher was Ben Carrasco.

Coach Tracy Dickerson said watching the team members work on their events and engineering projects was amazing.

“These students are indeed the future of science,” Dickerson said. “They demonstrated amazing teamwork, and were some of the most pleasant and fun to work with kids I’ve ever had the privilege of coaching.”

Coach Laura Carrasco said she looks forward to Science Olympiad season every year.

“It is a lot of work for the students to prepare for their events, and it is incredible to see the progress they make and the knowledge they gain,” she said. “They truly are an amazing and likable group of kids. We spend a lot of time together, after school and on the weekends, so that really makes it enjoyable as a coach.”

Florence-Carlton High School placed ninth.

“Our students did a great job representing Florence this year at the Science Olympiad state tournament, and I could not be more proud of them,” said Vanessa Haflich, coach. “Their hours of hard work and preparation paid off as several of them placed in their events.”

FCHS placings: Natalie Dulac, Shannon Byrne, and Zach Henderson - second place - experimental design; Shay Waldbillig and Brooklyn Little - third place - forensics; Wesson Cook - third place – hovercraft; Zach Henderson and Sawyer Haas - fifth place - mousetrap vehicle; Molly Kendall and Brooklyn Little - seventh place - rocks and minerals; Destini Greer and Cheyenne Bauge - eighth place – herpetology; and Shannon Byrne and Natalie Dulac - ninth place - materials science.

Victor High School placed 35th at Science Olympiad. They competed in anatomy and physiology, astronomy, ecology, forensics, herpetology, optics, rocks and minerals, and "Write it Do it." Victor science teacher Charlie Bruner was the coach.

Corvallis Middle School placed second overall and earned ten different medals in the individual events.

“Our students all worked incredibly hard to prepare for their events, and they had fun and learned a lot of science along the way,” said Rich Durgin, principal. “I am extremely proud of our whole team.”

Gold medal winners were: Olivia Buoy and Bryce Cooper and JV team Jacob Nelson and Grace Robinson - tower building; Gabby Krueger and Maeci Thomas and Page Capron and JV team Jessica Saturday – rollercoaster.

Silver medalists: Tara Sandau and Sydney Wolsky - Wright stuff; Rosalyn Daniel, Rylee Herbstritt, and Tara Sand - experimental design; and Emily Barcus and Hunter Cole – hovercraft.

Bronze medalists: Bryce Cooper and Maeci Thomas – optics; Paige Capron and Brinson Wyche (JV team) - Wright stuff; and Brinson Wyche (JV team) - solar system.

Coach Jen Powell said she is proud of her team.

“For many of them, Science Olympiad is their sport,” Powell said. “They put hours and hours into preparing for competition. Our program grows more every year and this is our second year with an addition of a strong JV team. In fact, in several events our JV tied or outscored our varsity team. This shows the depth of commitment from all of our students.”

Coach Darci Herbstritt called Science Olympiad a “phenomenal program.”

“These students are learning so much more than science,” she said. “They are learning commitment, perseverance, time-management, organizational skills, and cooperation. To celebrate their accomplishments at the state competition is just the icing on the cake – especially when you have seen their journey to get there.”


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