By Todd Martin

Special to the Heights Herald

NOLANVILLE - Mixing the excitement of sports with the wonder of science, 13 Killeen Independent School District elementary schools dove into the Science Olympiad.

Teams competed in a science bowl, trying to come up with the correct answers to science questions in a game show format. Competitors built contraptions to protect eggs from breaking when dropped.

Students designed and built, identified, figured, weighed and measured.

The third-, fourth- and fifth-graders, dressed in T-shirts specific to their schools, met at Cavazos Elementary School in Nolanville on Saturday to take part in a friendly competition of 18 games.

Clifton Park Elementary School won first place. Pershing Park Elementary took second place. Cavazos Elementary finished third.

Cavazos Elementary science teacher Dennis Marler said a year ago he began envisioning a district-wide science competition. He said he has taught science curriculum to teachers and wanted to get students more involved.

Science Olympiad is established in other states and in Texas at secondary grade levels, but not at the elementary level.

"I offered it up, and the fifth-grade science teachers all signed on," he said. "The science teachers got together and planned it. This has worked."

Elliott Alvarado, a science teacher at West Ward Elementary School, agreed that the event was a huge success and credited the work of a lot of teachers and students.

"It all came together and everyone had fun," Alvarado said, noting the huge undertaking of scheduling buses, ordering T-shirts and of course, preparing for the events.

All the students involved had to prepare for all 18 events and learned just the week before the Olympiad what event they would participate in.

Jane Apodaca, a science teacher at Bellaire Elementary School, said, "It's awesome. A lot of teachers and students worked hard on their own time and after school. They are very excited. I'm seeing huge smiles."

"It's exciting to see so many kids excited about academics," Apodaca said. "This will help them in high school and college - it's all beyond the curriculum."

Science teachers also praised the event for bringing together students who share interest in science. "They have played games during downtime, and interacted with peers and quizzed each other," said Alvarado.

"It's been fun, exciting and curious," said Bellaire fourth-grader William Bailey. "You learn new stuff and you just get to have fun."

"I think the coolest part was that we worked on experiments that we wouldn't do at school," said West Ward fourth-grader Micah Talley.

Both students said they definitely wanted to take part in the Olympiad next year.

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