One teammate stopped breathing” — Silver Creek Middle School student John Hall describing the level of nerves at the Indiana state science competition.
Keegan Allred and John Hall are pretty good buddies. Both like music and science. If you run across the two of them Keegan’s the not too shy one. John is the not too talkative one. But along with some other local middle school students representing Silver Creek Middle School they blend their individual talents and abilities to make a pretty good team. In fact, in just a couple of weeks they will be competing against some of the best teams from around the world after capturing both regional and state titles in the Destination Imagination competition in Knoxville, Tennessee on May 20 through 24. The other students on the S.L.O.V.S project are Ashley Less, Calvin Overberg, Charlie Weber, Jordan Balz, and Trinity Cox.
The middle school students have been meeting after school and on weekends creating and perfecting their project in the scientific challenge competition since early last fall. The scientific challenge they accepted according to Keegan, “We had to choose an extreme environment that was not sustainable for life and make it sustainable.” The team decided to choose the planet Venus. John explained that Venus was chosen because of its close proximity to the earth and due to the “Acid rain and the way hotter temperatures.” He later lost me on pretty deep discussion about toxic clouds and describing the scientific complexities of acid rain. I did understand that it could probably do really horrible things to my skin.
One member of the team used artistic skills to develop backdrop scenery representing at first Earth and then Venus. A vehicle was designed that would allow them to travel to and traverse the unsustainable environment which at first was a “bubble machine” vehicle and later a prototype with an actual engine was incorporated. Most of the contraption was built using recycled materials. There is a low dollar limit allowed for the materials challenging the young people to use scientific principals and imagination.
The team of seven local young people will be competing against teams from many countries such as Japan and Australia. A sort of low key confidence seems to be sustaining them in preparation for the competition. In addition to the science knowledge the students have also gotten quite an economics lesson as well. The entire trips costs and expenses will total somewhere between $5,000 and $6,000. The kids came up with creative ways to raise funds such as car washes and selling Texas Roadhouse peanuts door-to-door. A roadblock is planned for Sellersburg on Saturday, May 10 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. 60 and Charlestown Road in front of Chillers. So far the kids haven’t sold enough peanuts to cover the costs.
Christine Allred and DeAnna Hall also met with me and are pretty proud moms. One of the prerequisites for the teams is that no parent can aid or touch any of the props or materials used to assemble the projects. In fact, all of the team members are questioned at length by the judges in order to determine if they really think the kids did all of the preparation themselves.
The competitors have been presented with a challenge to raise $700 each. They will gladly accept donations from anyone to help them represent Southern Indiana against the world in a competition that makes kids use their minds and their imaginations to accept and solve scientific challenges. It will also be cool to trade the Indiana pin with other young people from around the globe to bring home their countries pins as souvenirs.
Any donations are tax deductible and checks can be made out to “Silver Creek Middle School Destination Imagination” (SCMS-DI). For additional information you can contact team manager, Trina Cox, at 502-498-2720 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will not do a Dodd’s Odds column for the primary elections but will stick out my neck in some very interesting and important races on the Democratic side of the aisle as that is where most of the drama will be next Tuesday. I will predict without much comment the following will win (after endless discussion from political types across the board) on Primary evening; Drew Adams (Circuit Court No. 1 Judge), Susan Popp (Clerk of Courts), Dennis Ettel (County Commissioner), Brian Meyer (Sheriff), and (for some incredulously) Jerry Jacobi (Circuit Court No. 2) as my surest bet of the night. I suspect some of these Democratic victors will face tough challenges by GOP opponents in the fall.
As usual these predictions do not necessarily reflect how I voted or how I might desire personally the final result to be. This will be mainly a party dedicated election with a possibly historically low turnout. I have around a 78 percent success rate of predicting elections races in my prognosticating history and since there are no school board races to throw me (I do horribly in school board race predictions historically) I suspect to be at least 80 percent accurate ( 4 out of 5). I will let you discuss which one about which I will be completely off base.
— Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at email@example.com