FARMINGTON — The hallways of Mesa View Middle School were a flutter with activity Saturday as students applied finishing touches to their elastic launched gliders and tuned their homemade instruments as part of the Northwest Regional Science Olympiad.

More than 500 students from area school districts turned out for the event, including Newcomb, Kirtland and Shiprock schools, according to Regional Director Nichole Atencio.

"We've had around 200 kids or less in the past," Atencio said. "This year is quite a big difference."

The school district received an grant from Chevron worth $15,000, which the district matched for a total of $30,000. The grant helped pay for student supplies along with travel expenses and stipends for the students which qualify for the state competition in Albuquerque next month.

There are about 23 categories in which the students can compete in, splitting between three different styles of competition.

Students were able to compete in categories which were building-based, inquiry-based and knowledge-based.

"Having that many events, you don't hit that one kind of student, you can get a variety of students," Atencio said.

Testing was conducted in a number of the classrooms on the second floor while specific classrooms on the first floor along with the library, gymnasium and cafeteria were full of students testing their gravity vehicles and the designs of their rotor egg drop projects.

Logan Cooper and Jett Fuller, seventh-graders at Mesa View, were waiting for their turn in line to see if their project made of Styrofoam, feathers and cardboard would keep an egg safe as it was dropped from the gym bleachers to the ground.


"We didn't go with the spinning tactic, we went with more of a floating tactic," Cooper said.

The project Cooper and Fuller brought to the event was the fifth prototype they tested in the four weeks approaching the competition. Cooper said attempts with cardboard and poster board pieces didn't create enough spin to cushion the egg landing but Fuller had a fun time designing the project.

"I enjoyed the process of being able to make the design and it was really interesting looking into aerodynamics," Fuller said.

In room 114, students competed in the Sounds of Music event, where they were required to construct an instrument to play a piece of music provided by the competition and a piece of their own choosing.

Sierra Martinez and Faith Chavers, seventh-graders from Hermosa Middle School, competed together with Chavers playing her homemade fife and Martinez playing a xylophone constructed out of wrenches, yarn, nails and a wooden frame.

"I sort of liked music all my life and I like (the) building events," Martinez said. "I took wrenches and built a wood frame, then I tied them with yarn to the side of the frame and wrapped them around nails I had holes in."

Martinez said she was able to adjust the pitch on the instrument by adjusting the position of the screws in the wood frame. Playing the provided piece of music by the New World Symphony was the most difficult part for Martinez.

"It was really nerve racking, we had to practice a lot and I got really nervous in there, my face was burning red when I was playing," Martinez said. "It is a lot easier playing my own piece because you have memorized it and it's simpler.

Working with the Olympiad for the past 16 years, Atencio said she loves seeing students blossom and discovering what they love about science.

"I love seeing what is going on and the application of science," Atencio said. "I think its real world problems they are seeing and I think it shows them where a career might be a possibility."