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Cardozo Middle School Students Getting Energized About Science
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Third place finishers Alexander Collins and Hunter Collison have a love for science and were delighted to gain the experience at the recent Science Olympiad, shown here holding the Boomilever they constructed. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS
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These are the Science Olympians that represented Cardozo Middle School along with their coach and teacher Florencio Estrada. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS
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Eighth grader Melany Mejia participated in the Elastic Launched Glider for the first time at the Annual Regional Science Olympiad. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

With a collaborative effort between Cardozo Middle School seventh grade science teacher Dawn Thurmond and eighth grade science teacher Florencio Estrada, five students competed in the Regional Science Olympiad on March 2 at the Modesto Junior College West Campus.

Estrada along with students Alexander Collins, Hunter Collison, Fernando Pena, Melany Mejia, and Harveer Aulakh arrived at the competition that began at 8 a.m. and lasted until about 5 p.m.

“I am really proud of them and thankful for the support that the administration has given us here to be able to participate in it,” said Estrada. “Also, thankful to the parents for letting them participate in it.”

Although this was not Estrada’s first time at the competition, it was the first time for the students that thoroughly enjoyed the event whether they placed or not. They participated in the Boomilever competition, Elastic Launched Glider, Heredity and Circuit Lab.

Eighth graders, Collins and Collison, were awarded Third Place in the Boomilever competition, which is a team event. They had to research the design and then construct the Boomilever. There were several schools throughout Stanislaus County that were represented in the Science Olympiad with approximately 18 schools in the competition.

“The whole idea is that it could hold as much weight on it as possible up to 15kg and the one they constructed handled all 15 kg,” added Estrada of his students’ work in that particular event. “It was very exciting. I feel very proud of them. The amount of work that goes into it (competition), the amount of research that goes into it and time, their own time, after school and at home.”

The two had to meet specific requirements for their boomilever including the device supporting a minimum load and be structurally efficient. One student was pouring the sand and the other was stabilizing the bucket during the competition. Both students said they have a love for science and would definitely compete again.

“I learned that like as far as construction goes these cross sectional pieces provide a lot of support,” said Collins. “It just depends on where you put them and how you structurally make something when it comes to construction.”

“My favorite part was putting it together because we got to sort of goof around while we were putting this together,” added Collison. “It was a fun thing that was also very serious for us. It was pretty surprising because we knew we did good; we were excited but we didn’t necessarily think of any medals or place that we would get. We just did it because we thought it would be fun.”

Collins expressed that he would consider returning to Cardozo Middle School to help science students with the event giving them advice and using their prototype as an example.

Pena took fifth place in the Heredity event where participants solved problems and analyzed data of the basic principles of genetics.

“It was basically a test of genetics and the passing of traits from parents to offspring,” added Pena about the competition. “I had to study … there were things that I didn’t really know but I studied for. I just had to go with my best guess and it turns out that I did really good.”

Building and designing her very own glider for the Elastic Launch Glider event, Mejia learned about angles and the elasticity to make it fly.

“My glider went high up and it took a lot of time in the air and it didn’t crash on to the floor, it glided onto the floor,” explained Mejia. “I made that in class and then took it to the competition. It took me three days to build it. It was really fun just seeing it outside flying.”

The Circuit Lab event had seventh grader Aulakh a bit disappointed with only creating one circuit. He had to complete a few tasks like measuring voltages and taking a test about electricity and magnetism. The competition took almost an hour and his favorite part was seeing what the other students built and how quickly they finished.

“I think it (Science Olympiad) is important because these are the kind of challenges that we face both technologically and in terms of like engineering,” stated Estrada. “I think it is great that they get started early like this. I think it does stir up more interest in science. They were excited just seeing other teams out there like kids walking around with lab coats and goggles. The environment just gets them excited about being part of science.”