ROY -- Kymberley Peterson carefully cradled her shoebox with the balloon car inside as she listened for the results of the balloon-car derby Tuesday morning.
Kymberley was one of 2,000 third- through sixth-grade students in Weber School District to compete in the district's 23rd annual Math and Science Olympiad at Roy High School on Monday and Tuesday. The 9-year-old third-grader from Lomond View Elementary School didn't win her event, but she loved trying.
"It went halfway across the room," she said of her creation.
"I just like trying to go for things and doing things on my own," she said as she showed her car, which was put together with cardboard from a cereal box and several straws.
Kymberley said she watched her sister compete in another car event a few years ago and wanted to try it ever since.
That kind of tradition and desire on the part of students makes the event all the more enjoyable for Joel Fredriksen, who started the Olympiad 23 years ago when he was an elementary math teacher. He worked with the math specialist in the district to get the event going.
"Clear back then, we wanted to do something that was hands-on with math and science in the classroom," Fredriksen said.
He worked to come up with events to force students to work on math and science problems outside of the norm.
"For some teachers, that was the first time they had done anything like that," he said.
The event has grown over the years and is something students, teachers and parents look forward to each year.
Community partnerships also have formed. America First Credit Union employees judge events in the Krypto competition, a card game in which students have to quickly solve mathematical equations. The event is a popular one and is a staple of the Olympiad.
Servicemen stationed at Hill Air Force Base also help judge the SET math card game, a new event this year. Men in fatigues sat at tables throughout the gym, interacting with students and teachers.
One serviceman, Nick Walsh, sat during his lunch break, waiting for more judging to start. He heard about the event through an email and decided it sounded like a fun thing to do.
"I like being able to get out in the community," Walsh said. "These are good, smart kids."
He also said he may be getting the SET game app for his phone after watching the kids play. He had never heard of the game until he was brought up to speed in a training session earlier that day.
Fredriksen said organizers try to rotate many of the events every four years, so students have a chance to try to new things and learn new math and science concepts, but some events, he said, are just too much fun and too popular not to have every year.
Students choose their events at their individual elementary schools, and competitions are held at the school level. Then usually the top three winners or winning teams from each school are sent on to the district Olympiad.
"So for the 2,000 students we have here, we have so many times more in their schools that have also done these things," Fredriksen said.
As Fredriksen spoke, the afternoon group of students started pouring into the gym, some holding paper airplanes they had carefully constructed for the glider competition, and others eager to try their hand at the egg drop, where students are given five pieces of paper and some tape with which to construct a fail-safe way to drop an egg from a high spot without breaking it.
Madison Locas proudly displayed her first-place medal from her egg drop win earlier in the morning. She described in great detail what she and a teammate had done to win the competition. Then, her eyes wide, she said, "We did it and it worked and it was really fun."
Fredriksen hopes to get more community partnerships to continue having success with the Olympiad.
"We hope to keep our funding. We run it on a shoestring budget, but that's what we do. It's all about the kids, and it's a good thing for the kids."