State Science Olympiad at UNL

Today was the state level competition for the middle school and high school Science Olympiad! I volunteered (or was voluntold) to sign up to help judge an event, and ended up picking MagLev as the event to help with.

MagLev is a fairly difficult event. You have to build a magnetic vehicle that floats inside a metal magnetized track, and power it in some way so that it travels down the track in a decent amount of time. There’s also a short magnetics test associated with it.

I’d been busy in the weeks leading up to the competition so I didn’t really read into my emails and directions as much as I should have, and what ended up happening about a week prior when I sat down to figure everything out was that I wasn’t prepared at all for the incredible amount of required things the judges were requested to provide. After a couple emails sent out, Mrs. Hester found some help in her husband and another fellow UNL student, with most of the materials accounted for.

Since MagLev is a high school-only event, I only had to be around for the afternoon, so on the advice of a friend of mine I headed out to the bus stop to get over to the other part of the campus to check in and get a free pizza lunch. It took a bit of waiting and a couple phone calls but I found out that the buses, well, don’t run on the weekends. Cue me returning to my dorm, grabbing my keys, making the trek to my car, driving to East Campus, missing the turn, turning around, and again driving into campus to find a parking spot.

It was around this time that I composed a brief haiku about my experiences thus far.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.
Fuck fuck fuck fuck FUCK fuck fuck.
Fuck fuck fuck, fuck fuck.

Ended up being on time anyway, even if I took a couple speed limits as suggestions instead of laws. Found the people I was supposed to meet, had some Valentino’s pizza, and headed off to the event.

With a little bit of work, we got teams checking in their builds and the event got underway. We didn’t mess up anything very major and everything went more smoothly than was expected, even the scoring, which was anticipated to take (literally) forever but ended up being a thirty-minute affair once we’d figured out a system.

Got the scores turned in and went to find some of the people I knew from Bellevue East, who were watching the Boomilever event (which they won, a lot). Madeline is making me put a shout-out to her here because she gave me a fair amount of grape Jolly Ranchers, which are the best Jolly Ranchers. Hi, Madeline.

After a bit more waiting around for the awards to start for the high schools (in between a little Brogue playing), the medals were passed out. Bellevue East took second, which was really good! even if the first-place team had wildly more points than they. Still a good accomplishment and a job well done.

Some of us walked back over to a different building to find the middle school awards ceremony, where my old school, Mission, took first for something like the ninth year running! They’re heading to Daytona for nationals in a month! I got to say hi to my old coach, Melody Kjerstad, who is a really fantastic person and was super happy to see me and say hi!

After saying my hellos and goodbyes to everyone there, I walked back to my car and drove home—and apparently there’s some kind of event going on at the Devaney Center tonight. The guy holding up the traffic into the parking lot where I normally park motioned for me to stop, so I rolled down my window. Before he could ask, I pointed at my parking permit sticker and said, “I’m not here for anything, just here to park.”

He laughed, clapped me on the shoulder, and said, “Get out of here.” What a nice guy. So I pulled in and walked back to the dorm.

What a heck of a day. I got my name in the fancy brochure as an Event Coordinator even if it was largely the work of both Hesters that got me there, and I got to say hi to a lot of people I haven’t seen this year. With nothing  to do tonight and nowhere to be tomorrow morning, everything feels great!