SHS team top public school in Science Olympiad

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Socorro High School’s Science Olympiad team snagged third place overall in the high school division at the state competition at New Mexico Tech this weekend, topping all the state’s public school competitors. Albuquerque Home Schoolers and Albuquerque Academy took first and second places, respectively. The winning team travels to Orlando, Florida, for the national competition in May.

The state competition pitted 25 of the best high school student teams from five different regions in various science-oriented events, ranging from building a Rube Goldberg-like contraption to answering questions about science topics.

Socorro High School competed in 23 events, scoring in the top tenth place or better in 18.

Jared Lam and Asher Guengerich came first in the Bungee event. According to high school coach Azza Ezzat, the students were given a weight and had to calculate exactly how long to cut an elastic cord so that the weight would drop from a specified height to just above the floor. The students didn’t know the exact weight nor the height in advance, but they were able to use their own five-meter long “bungee,” an especially effective Egyptian elastic cord Ezzat happened to have on hand at her house. It worked perfectly during the competition.

“We came only a half centimeter away from the floor,” Ezzat said, about a quarter inch.

Sarah Frail and Sergey Magedova racked up the highest score in the Designer Genes event, a written test on genetics.

This year marked the first time in several years that the high school team was one of the top five finalists.

“Both study and building events require many hours of practice and preparation,” said team parent and Sarracino Middle School coach Holly Mayfield. “Socorro students started in fall of 2013 to prepare for the spring competition. The long hours however, paid off this year. Socorro (High School) has not placed in the top five teams at state in several years.”

Sarracino Middle School came in fourteenth overall out of 25 teams, according to coach and SMS science teacher Jeff Tull. Tegann Gonzales and Katie Bailey placed highest, at fourth overall in Solar System. Team members Teghann Gonzales and Ambriel Mauldin ranked fifth in the Heredity event. Other notable finishers were Teghann Gonzales and Ambriel Mauldin, sixth place in Road Scholar; and Paige Pyke and Alana Chavez, ninth in Helicopters. Jordan Gonzales, Demitra Ulibarri, Deserae Smith, Brandon Dennis, Devan Webb, Alejandro Portillo and Jessica Kaus all ranked in tenth place overall in their events.

The tenth place finish in the Robo-cross event was in large part due to local sponsors.

“Aerojet and Gencorps generously donated material for the Robo-cross robot and without them we would not have been successful,” said Tull.

Cottonwood Valley Charter School did not participate in this year’s Science Olympiad competition.