By Michelle Xu

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A vehicle powered by a balloon and a self-sustaining tower made from marshmallows have one thing in common: they were built by middle school students.

Students in grades six through eight participated in the Junior Engineering Olympiad as part of the third annual Orange County Science and Engineering Week held at the Tustin Community Center at The Market Place on Sunday, April 23.

The event was hosted by Orange County Science, a student-run, non-profit organization. This engineering challenge consisted of six events, each led by an event captain. It took months of hard work to carefully prepare each event.

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“To create my event, I looked up some some similar Science Olympiad events to get inspired,” said Linh Huynh, the event captain of Mystery Architecture. “I met with the OC Science board multiple times to receive feedback on my event plan. I then modified my event based on the results of dry runs.”

Each student could choose two events of the six to participate in. Each event focused on a different field of science.

“My favorite event was Water Filtration,” said Renegan Chanp, a student participant of the Junior Engineering Olympiad. “It was fun to experiment with the different filters we used. I never knew you could build filters in so many interesting ways!”

Before the Junior Engineering Olympiad awards ceremony, OC Science hosted its Junior Division Science Bowl. In order to qualify for the Science Bowl, students had to participate in OC Science’s Problems of the Month, a set of challenging science problems released every month on the OC Science website. The top-scoring eight students were invited to participate in the Junior Division Science Bowl.

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“Science Bowl is an opportunity for everyone involved to learn about science,” said Jeff Guo, the Director of Problem Writing of OC Science. “With every question, someone learns something new, regardless if they got the question right or wrong. You really get to learn about every part of science while having fun and competing with others.”

The event concluded with the awards ceremony, where the top scorers in each event were rewarded with medals. The voices of excitement mixed with the sounds of medals clinking as participants walked out of the event center, eager to see what events the Junior Engineering Olympiad would offer next year.

To learn more about the Orange County Science and Engineering Week, visit the website

To learn more about Orange County Science and the events that they offer, visit their website