Turner High School students take on state science competition

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Ryan Silvola/Beloit Daily News (From left): Turner students Jolie Moran and Eleanor Lindsay customize their model airplanes on Thursday before competing in the Wisconsin Science Olympiad State Tournament today and on Saturday. The event, called aerial scramble, has students competing to see who can keep their planes up in the air the longest.

TOWN OF BELOIT - Thirty Turner students left early this morning to spend the next two days taking tests.

Varsity and junior varsity teams from Turner High School are venturing to the University of Wisconsin-Stout to compete in the Wisconsin Science Olympiad State Tournament today and Saturday. Coaches Kelsey Uttke and Nolan Otremba believe their teams are ready to compete in the tournament's 27 different events.

"From biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, the events range the entire science spectrum," Otremba said. "It's really good, because then kids can participate in events that cater to their interests."

Otremba said Turner has been bringing teams to the state tournament now for almost a decade. He said the students have been scoring well in the water quality, geocaching and aerial scramble events this year. Turner won three medals at the regional tournament at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in January.

"They have been working really hard lately. I've been really glad that a lot of our builds and study sheets are coming together," Otremba said. "I think we're as prepared as we can be."

Club president William Neupert said he was excited to go to the state tournament for the fourth time. As a senior, he said he's enjoyed making new connections and learning more about science over the last four years. He personally competes in circuit lab, thermodynamics, water quality and code busters.

He said code busters, which requires a team to decode encrypted messages, is his favorite event.

"It sounds daunting when you start, but once you finish you get to feel the accomplishment of cracking all the codes you broke," Neupert said.

He believes his team will do well this year.

On Thursday, Eleanor Lindsay and Jolie Moran, who are the varsity aerial scramble team, were hard at work making adjustments to their test model airplanes. During the actual event, competitors will assemble and customize two kits, and the team whose plane stays in the air the longest wins. They've been testing their plane flights in the middle school gym.

Lindsay and Moran said their plan is the bend the wings, cut off some of the wooden spine so there's less weight and balance the propeller in order to make sure their plane stays up the longest.

Otremba said he's proud of his students.

"Very few clubs have 30 kids, and there's no clubs I can think of that the kids show up and take a test," Otremba said. "The fact that 30 kids are that enthused about science says something about their dedication. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have Science Olympiad, so I'm glad they love science."

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