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Lee Early College students win at state Science Olympiad

Click to enlarge Lee Early College students win at state Science Olympiad

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Lee Early College's Science Olympiad team competed at the North Carolina Science Olympiad April 28 ... (more)

Click to enlarge Lee Early College students win at state Science Olympiad

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Lee Early College students Riley Gray (left) and Sarah Poe prepare their launcher at the North Carolina ... (more)

05.09.2012College & CommunitySpecial Events

SANFORD - Lee Early College's Science Olympiad brought home seventh and eighth place medals from the Science Olympiad statewide competition April 28 at North Carolina State University.

More than 100 teams and approximately 1,000 students took part in the competition. LEC's Science Olympiad team has been in competitions for four years and won multiple medals, but this is the first time it competed at the state level.

According to the National Science Olympiad Program, the goal of Science Olympiad is "to bring science to life, to show how science works, to emphasize problem solving aspects of science and the understanding of science concepts" as well as "to develop teamwork and cooperative learning strategies among students."

LEC Juniors Christa Rhinehart and Kim Cherry competed in the Towers event. They had to build a tower that could hold 15 kilograms of sand using only limited materials. The LEC tower held 15.2 kilograms, earning the seventh place medal.

"This is going in (LEC's) trophy case!" Rhinehart said of the medal.

The second medaling event, the Storm the Castle, won Riley Gray and Sarah Poe a spot in eighth place. The Storm the Castle event requires competitors to build a trebuchet (launcher) in advance without knowing what will be launched or what the counterweight will be. The goal is to launch this unknown mass, using an unknown counterweight, into a box ("castle") at a certain distance.

Prior to the Storm the Castle event, LEC Science Olympiad coach Rodney Schmitz said, "I'll be happy if they just hit the box, but if they make it in, I'll be ecstatic!"

He was thrilled when Gray and Poe's trebuchet launched the mass, hitting the box on their first attempt and landing it perfectly in the box on their fourth attempt, earning them the points needed to put them in eighth place.

Following the competition, Schmitz and his students said their first experience at the state-level competition went exceptionally well. They examined their mistakes as a team, but also celebrated an excellent year of hard work.

"The Science Olympiad team's success at the regional and statewide competitions is continued proof of the LEC students' impressive level of dedication," said school Principal Robert Biehl.

Lee Early College is a collaboration of Lee County Schools and Central Carolina Community College. The school opened on the college's Lee County Campus in 2006. Students enter as ninth graders and, within five years, can earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree. There is no cost to the students or families.

For more information about Lee Early College, visit For more information about Science Olympiad, visit