26 January 2014

Science Olympiad, Music, and Memories

On Saturday I had the pleasure of being able to help judge a middle school invitational Science Olympiad event, which brings me back to my days of competing during middle and high school.

While I was in school I mainly did the biology events as well as worked in the bottle rockets.  Below are images from my t-shirt, which I still have and love.  (I mean come on, it has a pocket protector on it.)  If you can't tell, our school mascot was a warrior, we just nerded him up a little.  I made some of my best friends during Science Olympiad (which makes sense since we spent so much time together at practices).  We were nerds, but in our mind, the cool nerds.


The event that I got to judge was called the Sounds of Music, which covered the science behind music.

For the event, students, working in teams of two, made two instruments from scratch -- percussion, wind, or string.  These instruments had to pass several standards such as, being durable, accurate, as well as playing a certain range of notes (one instrument was responsible for the bass clef, while the other was responsible for the treble clef).  The students could use any materials, but they could not use preexisting instrument pieces (except for strings) meaning, they had to make their mallets, mouthpieces, soundboxes, whatever.  In addition, the students had to write a melody to go with the assigned piece, which must be written properly.  The students then had to perform the assigned piece and another piece as a duet.  Finally, the students had to take a short quiz about the science behind musical instruments.

Honestly, it was a very difficult event because of the many components.  It was also a little difficult to judge because I had to go back several years (more than I'd like to admit) to my music education.  However, the students showed great potential with their creativity.  There were many flutes, several guitars, a banjo, several xylophones, and even a set of chimes and a marimba.

The thing that I loved the most about this event was that it combines two subjects that for the most part, live in different parts of our lives.  People are either into science or music,  you are either cast as creative or scholarly.  The idea that you can be interested in both, or even need to understand science to better understand music is seen as crazy.