McKINNEY (May 23, 2014) — A crowd of students gazed up expectantly at Cory Gililland as he reached out over the second-floor balcony at McKinney High School. He paused, waited for the official word, then released a brightly colored, oddly shaped paper object.

Winning School: McKinney Boyd High School won the trophy for posting the highest collective total of team points throughout the day.

Winning School: McKinney Boyd High School won the trophy for posting the highest collective total of team points throughout the day. From left, Erin Hagood, John Henk, Hannah Smith, Raahil Sha, Brett Voyles, Wojciech Futoma, Autumn Hall, Colton James, Angelina Cherry, Austin Phillips, Andrew Leon, Haven Trahan, Forrest Bye, Hannah Gray, Abigail Meza and Samantha Low.

 

The parachute-like structure attached to it flared briefly but did little to slow the object’s fall as it hurtled toward the floor some 15-20 feet below.

Every eye tracked its brief, doomed descent until it crashed to the ground with a grisly crunch, and a collective groan went up from the crowd.

Chaurcley Cook, McKinney ISD Coordinator of Secondary Science, moved in to assess the results, but the pool of clear, yellowish liquid oozing out in an ever-widening circle confirmed what everyone already knew. “We’ve got a broken egg,” announced Cook. It was a setback for the team who designed the contraption. But, they weren’t alone. Not every team succeeded in bringing their eggs back to earth unscathed using only three sheets of colored copy paper and some tape to design a protective capsule.

But as the day rolled on, there would be other opportunities for success in this, the first annual McKinney ISD “Battle of the Blues” Physics Olympics held Friday, May 16. Over the course of the day, 14 teams drawn from the district’s three high schools would face off in 10 physics challenges: Mouse Trap Car, Egg Drop, Calculator Relay, Fermi Questions, Physics Quiz, Cantilever Build, Pole Position, Sinking Ship, Tower Build and the Slow Bike Race.

The greatest success went to those teams who could adapt quickly, think on the fly and, most importantly, who could apply their knowledge of physics in new scenarios. Superintendent Dr. J.D. Kennedy, MISD teachers, principals and Raytheon representatives were on hand to serve as guides and judges. Medals were awarded for 1st through 3rd places in individual events, but the big winners for the day were McKinney Boyd High School who won the overall school competition and Team #13 from McKinney North High School who won the medal for overall highest scoring team.

 

 
Winning Team: The team with the highest overall point total was team #13 from McKinney North High School: From left, Harrison Hanes, Aidan Flint, Cory Saba, Nick Blaskovich and Aaron Mead.

Winning Team: The team with the highest overall point total was team #13 from McKinney North High School: From left, Harrison Hanes, Aidan Flint, Cory Saba, Nick Blaskovich and Aaron Mead.

 

“I enjoy doing this kind of stuff because the kids are always awesome,” said Raytheon Supply Chain expert James Meiseman who has volunteered at many Raytheon/MISD collaborative LASER (Leadership and Science Ensure Results) competitions and who hand-built all of the catapult devices MISD students use during those events. “Every time I come, I see them do something new, and their ingenuity and thinking outside the box…it’s awesome. The kids are awesome.”

McKinney High School Principal Dr. Logan Faris, who along with Assistant Principal Annuar Ortiz, brought home victory in the principals competition, talked about the idea behind the Physics Olympics. “It’s designed so that schools can come in, and they bring a variety of teams, and it works just like a track meet," Faris said. "A lot of the events that we have today are patterned after the events we’ve seen at similar competitions at UNT and at Stephen F. Austin University. It’s nice for kids to see a science and math application within a competition that has a lot of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and engineering connection to it. We started off small with five teams from each school this year, but we may look to expand it for next year. We’re already discussing some events that we could add next year such as catapults and trebuchets.”

The principals got in on the competition by completing four events during the lunch break. Here MHS Principal Dr. Logan Faris and Assistant Principal Annuar Ortiz tackle the magnetic challenge of the Pole Position event, a contest that was far more exasperating than it seemed. Faris and Ortiz were declared the victors of the principal competition.

The principals got in on the competition by completing four events during the lunch break. Here MHS Principal Dr. Logan Faris and Assistant Principal Annuar Ortiz tackle the magnetic challenge of the Pole Position event, a contest that was far more exasperating than it seemed. Faris and Ortiz were declared the victors of the principal competition.

 

“I think it’s been a really great competition,” said Andrew Mobley, a member of Team #6 from McKinney High School. “Overall, I think it’s a great way of promoting the principles of physics and having a lot of fun and innovation between [schools].

The day wrapped up with a physics lecture and demonstration presented by Dr. Harry Downing and Ali Piran of Stephen F. Austin University.

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or smauldin@mckinneyisd.net.

 

About McKinney ISD

One of the fastest growing school districts in Texas, the McKinney Independent School District currently enrolls more than 24,750 students in 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, four alternative schools and one early childhood education school. The mission of McKinney ISD, the champion for progressive learning throughout the diverse McKinney community, is to inspire and equip all students to explore, develop and express their unique potential as innovators, critical thinkers and collaborators through challenging, engaging and diverse learning experiences in vital partnership with the community. Visit the district's website at mckinneyisd.net.