C.J. Morris students vie for spots on Science Olympiad team


Charles Lei’s Pasta Mobile with hand-carved wheels sails down the ramp during the Science Olympiad Trials. Photo courtesy: WVUSD

Charles Lei’s Pasta Mobile with hand-carved wheels sails down the ramp during the Science Olympiad Trials.
Photo courtesy: WVUSD

WALNUT, CA—C.J. Morris Elementary 5th grader Harrison Chung is hoping to win a spot on the school’s Science Olympiad team.

On Tuesday, he patiently waited for his turn during the Egg Drop trials held at lunchtime. The mission was to create a cushioned package to protect a raw egg from a high free fall. Chung, who used bubble wrap and straws, was relieved that his egg bundle survived the drop.

“Last year, I was an alternate, so I really wanted to be on this year’s team,” he said.

Several retired educators were invited to coordinate and judge three different events held September 27-29.  “They made the little containers and we put a fresh egg inside,” explained C.J. Morris retiree Katie Trumbo who recorded the entries.

Steve Cusson, retired social studies teacher from Suzanne Middle School, climbed up a ladder to drop each egg package over a chalk bull’s eye on the black top. “This has been a lot of fun! At Suzanne we did this from the top of the library!” he said.

For the second round, Cusson launched the egg bundles from about 15-feet atop a supply shed. A crowd of students and staff cheered as he held each entry over the drop area.

Five of the eggs survived the fall on the first day, others didn’t and splatted their yolks.

Forty 3rd-5th grade students are competing for 15 spots on the Science Olympiad team.

They’ve been encouraged to enter more than one event during the trials for prepare for regional competition held next spring, according to Principal Shezhad Bhojani. “Our goal is to provide more access to students in experiencing hands-on science in an authentic selection process to represent C.J. Morris at the L.A. County Science Olympiad.”

Students also showed off their creative skills during the Pasta Mobile and Can Race events.“This competition is also allowing them to think outside the box,” Bhojani added. The tin can cars were designed to drag down a three-meter track on the playground.

“I like science a lot and wanted to give it a shot!” said 3rd grader Lorelei Silva-James while waiting to race.

Students fashioned running arms from toothpicks and rubber bands to propel their entries. “They can put weights inside the can, but they can’t push it at the starting line,” said Suzanne retiree Ronnie Hee.

Teacher Dave Boots built a wooden ramp last weekend for the Pasta Mobile contest. Students used all shapes and sizes of dry pasta including penne, macaroni, and rigatoni to build their entries.

Boots steadied each car at the top of the ramp using a yardstick. On his cue, the little cars rolled down onto the 1.5-meter lane. The goal was to travel the farthest without going out of the boundaries or falling apart.

Fourth grader Hailey Chan’s lasagna car rolled an impressive 150 centimeters on Day 1 of the trials. And Charles Lei, a 5th grader who was leading after the first day’s noodle event, carved oversized wheels from flat noodles.

The elementary students are also invited to put their skills to the test this week during Anatomy, Astronomy, and Physical Science Knowledge multiple choice exams. In the Anatomy test, they will also be asked to identify structures and organs of the body. They’ll be quizzed about the planets, the moon and its phases, the sun, a spiral galaxy, a nebula, a star cluster, and a comet on the Astronomy quiz.

“It takes courage and confidence to come out and try for this team!” Boots said.