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Science Olympiad in Kansas City sends nine winning teams to state competition

Jacob Vanderpool of Lathrop High School lined up his team’s electric vehicle on the course during Saturday’s regional Science Olympiad at Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley.
Jacob Vanderpool of Lathrop High School lined up his team’s electric vehicle on the course during Saturday’s regional Science Olympiad at Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley. jsleezer@kcstar.com

A wizard circles around a princess, protecting her from a tornado by throwing red balls at it.

This was a computer game invented, on the spot, by Staley High School students Saturday competing in the regional Science Olympiad at Metropolitan Community College’s Penn Valley campus.

Computer game programming was a new addition among more than two dozen events in the competition, which annually brings together students from 27 schools across seven Missouri counties in the Kansas City area. Students were given less than an hour to create a computer game from scratch, using free software provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Parker Golliglee, 18, of Excelsior Springs, used to compete in the Olympiad as a student and returned Saturday to help organizers. He called the computer game one of the more impressive recent additions.

“It’s just neat to realize that high school kids are putting together games that are parallel to, like, addictinggames.com in 50 minutes,” he said.

Other events Saturday included bridge building and making rockets out of plastic bottles, said Terry Davin, a co-director of the Olympiad.

The event is a regional competition conducted as part of the Missouri Science Olympiad, a nonprofit that is part of the national Science Olympiad, which promotes science education for children and teenagers.

“A lot of these kids spend all year preparing for this,” Davin said. “It’s really like an athletic event for them.”

In the end, teams from nine schools won entry into the state competition on April 9 at Westminster College in Fulton. Four of those came from the high school division, including Pembroke Hill, Plattsburg, Staley and Platte County.

Five teams from the younger division will also go to state, including students from the Oak Grove R-VI School District, Pembroke Hill, Plattsburg Middle School, Kearney Junior High School and Notre Dame de Sion.

The winners of the state competition can go on to compete at the national level.

More than 300 students took part in the Olympiad from public, private and charter schools in Jackson, Clay, Platte, Ray, Buchanan, Caldwell and Clinton counties.

MCC-Penn Valley began hosting the event 30 years ago.

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