School Bulletin: Students combine forces to win state, national titles

School Bulletin: Students combine forces to win state, national titles

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A team of young scientists and engineers, quite literally, catapulted themselves onto the national stage.

"We just smile, shoot it and hope it lands close," Patrick Walsh, a senior and leader of the catapult project, says.

Marquette University High School's Science Olympiad team placed fourth at the national tournament and won their second consecutive state title. The catapult contest was just one event. The students also put together a planes, bridges and parachutes. While the devices may look simple, they are calibrated to be extremely precise -- like the pendulum clock.

"It's getting down to the last [moment]. You're within a few seconds, and then you're within maybe a second or two," Thomas Rose, a senior and leader of the clock project, says. "Then you're within a few tenths of a second. Just seeing that progress is really nice."

At MUHS, the Science Olympiad team starts in September. First dividing into smaller teams, and then the design and conceptual work begins. Prototypes are built with simple materials and then tested. Josh Collier, a junior, has become something of an expert at fabricating models.

"I'm a very mechanically minded person, so all of my events give me an opportunity to do things that I really love," Collier says. "Plus, it has the added benefit of being a competition, and I can be a competitive person sometimes."

The models are then used to create the final products using Computer-Aided Design (CAD), and more tests are run. The coach, Nicole Williams, says this team has spent countless hours adjusting and fine tuning their projects before and during competitions.

"They're saying, 'No, good is not good enough. We are going to do our best every day,'" Williams, who also teaches biology and chemistry, says. "Yes, it's serious, but they've found a way to have fun."

Tyler Chang, a senior, says creating the gravity vehicle was more challenging this year with an added obstacle to the course. But of course, the team prevailed.

"Just getting to spend time with everyone was really awesome," Chang says. "Then getting rewarded for that with all the medals and everything we get, is just a testament to our hard work."

The team's accolades are numerous. Many of the projects achieved perfect scores multiple times in competitions across the state and country, but the students say the experience means more than the medals and trophies.

"More than just winning… it means the world to me to compete with these guys," Nathan Petrucci, a senior, says. "I joined the team when I was a freshman, and this is where I was able to make friends in high school."

The graduating seniors are heading off to some of the top universities in the country to study biology, engineering and physics. The younger students will now have to continue the legacy of this very successful team.

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