In addition to the duties and responsibilities of being the Director of Academic Technology and our yearbook adviser, I also am a co-founder of our Science Olympiad team. Science Olympiad is a competition in which a team of 15 students prepares, builds, and then demonstrates their knowledge in 23 different events/subject areas over a six hour period. (For more details, visit Science Olympiad National Web site). If the team does well over all 23 events, then they are invited to participate in the state tournament. And if a team does exceptionally well at state, then they are invited to a National Tournament.
For the past nine years, we have fielded a Middle School team. Along with Lee Block, who approached me about this opportunity, we have developed an extremely strong program that between 30 – 40% of our Middle School students participate in annually. Each of the last nine years, we have done well enough to be invited to the state finals. Over the past five years, we have consistently placed in the top 12 teams in the state, peaking with a fifth place finish two years ago.
For the past eight years, we have fielded a High School team. Each year, we got better, and for the past three years, have qualified for the state finals. This is especially impressive, since we are the smallest high school in the state (enrollment: 180) and we are competiting against schools that are 10 – 20 times larger than we are.
This past Saturday, we competed and had more successes then failures. It was a great day (and a long one). What I enjoy about Science Olympiad can be exemplified by the learning that came from one of our failures. One of the events requires the participants to build a plane to certain specifications, so that it can have the maximum time aloft. At the event, our student was taking his plane out of the box he transported it in and broke the tail. This required that he reconstruct a new tail in a two hour window and then fly the plane without any tests, trials, and trimming. We did not score well, but learning to manage difficulty is a great lesson.
In another post, I will share what a former colleague of mine, Thomas Fortieth, shared which describes our program and the experience much more eloquently that I could ever imagine.