HARKER HEIGHTS — Nine-year-old Minseon Kwon sat alone at a picnic table enthralled with the pink plastic egg in front of her.
“I’m trying to get it in the middle, and not, like, sink to the bottom,” she said, loading up the hollow egg with bright beads and placing it in a glass of water.
The experiment tried to help kids grasp the concept of density, and was one of many educational activities at the third annual Elementary Science Olympiad, which took place Saturday at Harker Heights High School.
Twenty-eight teams of elementary school students took part in more than 20 events — such as aerodynamics, circuit wizardry and water rockets — in order to take home the grand champion trophy.
“What I love about the event, is that it gets kids excited about academics,” said Bethany Sutton, assistant principal at Brookhaven Elementary. “All the different events are over a lot of different sciences — life sciences, physical sciences — a variety of sciences, so they’re not just opening a book and reading about it.”
Started by Cavazos Elementary fifth-grade teacher Dennis Marler, the event exploded after its first year, now involving hundreds of students.
“I know my kids love science, but I wanted to do something to expand on the TAKS test or the STAAR test, something more that they could do with it,” Marler said, explaining what spurred him to create the Science Olympiad.
Meanwhile, three more children joined Minseon Kwon at her picnic table and asked her how to do the activity. Eleven-year-old Naryah Illarraza from Hay Branch Elementary grabbed a bunch of beads and quickly explained how she just returned from the “reflector relay,” a competition where students manipulated mirrors to reflect lasers to hit targets.
“I never knew lasers and mirrors could do so many things besides ‘oh a laser points is bright and points’ and ‘oh you just use a mirror to look at yourself,’” she said.
After a quick poll though, students at the table couldn’t decide if the event was better than Field Day.