WATERVILLE — Fifteen Waterville Senior High School students are leaving tonight for Dayton, Ohio, to take part this weekend in the 2017 Science Olympiad National Tournament.

The team placed second at the state Science Olympiad tournament April 1 at University of Southern Maine in Gorham, but the team that placed first, Waynflete School in Portland, is unable to go.

Waterville will compete in the 33rd annual national event, according to Coach Jon Ramgren. In 22 years, Waterville High teams have won first place at the state contest 17 times and have attended national competitions 18 times, he said.

About 2,000 students in 120 teams from around the country will take part in the national event. Sixty teams are made up of junior high students and 60 of high school students.

The students compete in rigorous events that challenge them to solve problems using biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and engineering. Some involve building structures, including one where students must build a tower using only wood and glue. It must be a certain height and strong enough to support 30 to 35 pounds hanging from it, according to Ramgren, who teaches honors chemistry, applied chemistry and forensic science.

Ramgren said he is proud of the Waterville students, who have been practicing events since last year. In January, the team took part in an invitational or practice tournament at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“They’re phenomenal and they’re involved in everything,” he said. “Eight kids are on the track team, kids are on the tennis team, on the baseball team. The results these students are able to achieve is not because of what I’m doing, particularly, but because of what the school has done over the 10 to 12 years that the kids have been in the system.”

Five seniors on the team are in the National Honor Society, which is holding its ceremony tonight before the bus takes off.

“They had to move the National Honor Society induction ceremony an hour earlier so the kids could go,” Ramgren said.

Accompanying Ramgren and the team to the nationals are Rosemarie Smith, a former Science Olympiad coach who retired from teaching chemistry last year but continues to help the team; retired junior high school social studies teacher Ron Webber, who also is a boys soccer coach and for whom Webber Field on West River Road is named; and Jeff Jolicoeur and Scott Jones, who are parents of students on the team.

Students will leave Waterville at 8 tonight. Ramgren estimates they will arrive at Wright State University in Dayton around mid-afternoon Thursday. They will stay in campus dormitories, attend a barbecue Friday afternoon, attend opening ceremonies for Science Olympiad Friday night and take part in 23 events Saturday. At 8 a.m. Sunday they will go to Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio, travel overnight and return home around 6 or 7 p.m. Monday, according to Ramgren.

Students going to the nationals are Bridger Holly, Katie Lopes, Anthony Pinnette, Nathan Pinnette, John Violette, Merline Feero, Maddie Hallen, Brock Jolicoeur, Carter Jones, Adam Livshits, Ella Ruehsen, Abi Bloom, Kevin Chen, Jordan Perkins and David Ramgren.

Those who took part in the state tournament and were on the MIT Invitational Team are Holly, Lopes, both Pinnettes, Violette, Feero, Hallen, Jones, Livshits, Ruehsen, Ramgren and Cecilia Morin, Clio Bazakas, Natalia Fuentes and Nora Green. Alternates are Jolicoeur, Bloom, Perkins, Chen and Jess Bazakas.

Ramgren said some state winners are unable to go to the nationals so alternates will take their places. The tournament will be live-streamed, he said.

The trip costs about $17,000 and the team has been raising money for it. About two-thirds of that total has been raised but more donations are needed. Anyone wanting to do so may send checks to Waterville Senior High School, 1 Brooklyn Ave., Waterville, ME 04901, with “Science Olympiad” noted in the memo line, according to Ramgren.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17