March 13, 2003
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YSHS physics and math students—
A talented TEAMS team

In the annual high school Test of Engineering Aptitude, Math, and Science (TEAMS), which asks teams of eight students to calculate the environmental impact of hybrid-electric cars, evaluate the orbital radius of a global positioning system satellite and design a facility to produce a certain amount of cheese from raw milk, Yellow Springs High School is competitive with schools seven and eight times its size.

At this year’s regional competition, held on Feb. 27, at Cedarville University, YSHS Team A scored 54 out of 100 possible points, winning its seven-teams division of schools with 100 graduating seniors or less. The team, which includes Drew Breckner, Andy Chen, James Hyde, Sam Klontz, Mike Mucher, Eli Visbal, Aaron Zagory and Matt Zaremsky, scored fourth out of all the schools in the region.

The students have confidence in their abilities and in one another. They attribute their success to mainly two factors.

“It’s a combination of having a strong math and science department at the high school and having a good group of kids in my class and in the class below us,” said Visbal, who has participated in TEAMS for three years.

Northmont High School and St. Charles Preparatory scored the highest with 59 points, and Beavercreek High School came in third with 56 points. Northmont and Beavercreek each has a student body of around 2,000, and St. Charles has 523 students, while YSHS has 240 students.

YSHS Team B, which included Dylan Borchers, Tina Dallas, Elizabeth Dixon, Monica Erickson, Cooper Fleishman, Scott Keyes, Alex Melecki and Amy Price, came in fourth place in the small school division with 32 points.

A sample problem from the 90-minute multiple choice test three years ago involved predicting the performance of a hot air balloon. The teams were asked, for example, to calculate the temperature that would be needed inside a balloon with a volume of 2,500 cubic meters and a cargo mass of 400 kilograms to raise the balloon 100 meters in one minute.

The second part of the test, an additional 90 minutes, involves more theoretical problems that require more creative answers. Team members say they like the collaborative nature of this part of the day.

“It was fun cooperating on the different problems because most of them were pretty hard and it would be hard to do with just one person,” first-time participant Melecki said.

The team’s advisor and YSHS physics teacher Phil Lemkau said that sometimes he has difficulty with the complexity of the problems. To find the answer to one of the questions, he once called a professional engineer, who said he would have to think about it for a while.

“He never got back to me,” Lemkau said. “These are first-class practical applications of engineering and physics. It’s very sophisticated stuff, and we’re good at it.”

The students don’t practice because they are too busy with other activities, though they show consistent ability to compete with the best students from around the area and beyond. Last year YSHS won third place in the national competition for its division.

The YSHS team won’t find out its national standing until mid-April. The national rankings are based on a second 90-minute test of open-ended questions, which the students also took on Feb. 27.

—Lauren Heaton