LEHMAN TWP. — Jacob Speicher and Shelby Pocono dug right into the forensic evidence of a mock crime to find the thief’s identity at the 2018 Northeast Regional Science Olympiad at Penn State Wilkes-Barre March 9.
Speicher and Pocono, both Dallas School District students, were part of an Olympiad team which competed against nearly 40 other middle and high schools in the annual academic science and engineering contest.
Up to 700 students from Bradford, Carbon, Clinton, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Montour, Pike, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne and Wyoming counties converged onto Penn State Wilkes-Barre’s campus to compete in 23 events, including chemistry, experimental design, anatomy and physiology, disease detectives and much more.
The Dallas Middle School team earned third place in Division B, the middle school competition for grades six through nine. Neither Dallas nor Lake-Lehman school districts placed in Division C, or grades nine through 12.
“Teams in first to fourth place will earn medals,” said Roger Demos, state director of the Science Olympiad. “The top scoring teams from both Divisions will move on to the state competition on April 28 at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.”
The top six teams will receive a trophy, while the top two teams advance to a national tournament May 18 and 19 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., Demos said.
Speicher, a sixth-grader at Dallas Middle School, and Pocono, a freshman at Dallas High School, put the idea of advancing in the contest out of their minds for the moment and focused on solving a fictitious crime scene using their scientific knowledge in an event called Crime Busters.
Crime Buster sleuths had 50 minutes to solve a crime at an art studio where the “famous painting Moona Lucy” was stolen, said Amy Adams, a faculty member at Wallenpaupack Area Middle School and supervisor for Crime Busters.
“Students are given unknown powders, a liquid, a footprint and fingerprint, hair and cloth samples,” Adams said. “They need to analyze the evidence to identify the thief.”
Similar to a “Who Done It” game, students were given a list of potential characters, such as Michelle Ann Jello, Eddie Easel, Gonna Getchoo, and Cathy Canvas, Adams said.
After the event, the Dallas duo felt it found the identity of the robber.
“It was Cathy Canvas,” Pocono said. “The hair sample was blonde and she was the only one with blonde hair. Plus, the shoe print, fingerprint and the chromatography matched.”
Speicher said the event was challenging because there was a lot to do in a short time.
In another event, Lake-Lehman Junior-Senior High School students Stephanie Chaga and Hannah Kasko faced a daunting task of designing and building a video game at the Game On event.
Participants had 50 minutes to create a video game centered around a specific theme provided by the software program, said Doug Mallas, a faculty member from North Pocono School District and supervisor for the Game On competition.
“The goal is to have them utilize problem-solving and critical thinking skills to map out the game,” Mallas said. “Then they need to code the game.”
Each game must include a racing or avoidance component, Mallas said.
At the end of the session, Kasko and Chaga said there was a glitch and they hoped it was with the computer and not their video game.
“We created a maze and you had to get a cat to a DNA bubble,” Kasko said. “When the cat went into the bubble, it changed color. It had a DNA theme.”
Both Kasko and Chaga said it was their fifth time competing at the Northeast Regional Science Olympiad, but it was their first time in the Game On event.
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.