By Jeffery Wehr
Odessa High School science instructor 

STEM Challenge won by Wilbur HS

 

November 28, 2019



Team Wilbur, consisting of Wyatt Corrigan, Lance Berkey, Brenden Hill, Tristyn Struve, Maddie Thrams and Sydney Schmierer were the winners of the 10th Annual Bi-County STEM Challenge and took the illustrious Golden Flask Award away from last year’s winners, Team Odessa. The Wilbur team was accompanied to the event by Wilbur High School science teacher Jason Maioho.

All schools in the Bi-County were invited to participate in the 10th Annual Bi-County STEM Challenge on November 14. Out of the 14 school districts invited, only Odessa, Harrington, Wilbur, Creston, Sprague and Soap Lake showed up at Odessa High School at 9 a.m. to compete in the annual science-based “Junkyard Wars.” Each school brought a team of six students to vie against the other schools for the traveling trophy. Team Odessa consisted of Eric Johnston, Joshua Clark, Marcus King, Ireland Luiten, Pilot Weishaar and Collin Martin.

Created by the science teachers from each participating school system, each team had two objectives. First, the students were broken into separate teams consisting of a mixture of students from all the schools. Each team had to solve five mathematics problems, which led to a cipher key. After figuring out the key, the students transformed their number answers into a five-letter code to unlock a treasure box filled with prizes. Pilot Weishaar was among the first-place awardees.


The next objective required the students to get back into their original school groups and follow clues which led them around the greater Odessa community. The first challenge had them converting binary coding language into latitude and longitude coordinates which, using their cell phones, led them to the next challenge.

Team Odessa was led to the “Frog Pond,” where they engineered a device capable of launching a marble down a ramp which they could manipulate. The team with the longest time down the ramp earned a reward to be used later in the day. Once the engineering was complete, they were given a USB stick and a speaker to decode musical songs that opened a chest with the latitude and longitude coordinates to the next challenge.

The third challenge had Team Odessa moving to the football field, where they solved chemistry problems and the answers were the latitude and longitude coordinates to the next challenge at the outdoor stage downtown.

The fourth challenge had Team Odessa solving DNA-to-RNA-to-protein synthesis biological problems, which again provided the latitude and longitude coordinates to the next challenge.

The fifth challenge had Team Odessa running to the footbridge over Crab Creek, where a light hooked to a computer chip was blinking Morse code. Each team had to decipher the code, which represented the latitude and longitude coordinates to the final challenge.

The final challenge had Team Odessa traveling to Reiman Park, where another barrage of math problems led to clues that took them back to Odessa High School. Team Odessa finished all of the challenges first, with Wilbur second, Harrington third, Sprague fourth and Soap Lake fifth.

The overall finale had each team behind a computer linked to an escape room. Since Team Odessa was in the lead, they entered the escape room first and worked on the clues and puzzles for one minute until Team Wilbur was allowed to join. After two minutes, Team Harrington could join and after three minutes Team Sprague and Team Soap Lake could join.

After about 10 minutes, all teams were tied with one final tough puzzle left to finish. Team Wilbur figured it out first and escaped, winning the escape room challenge!

All the students who participated are to be congratulated for their competitive spirit and incisive thinking during this awesome event. We look forward to another challenge next year.

 

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