Education

Santa Fe Middle School Students Participate in 31st Science Olympiad at Occidental College

Story and photos
By Terry Miller

“Mission Possible” was the name of one of last year’s team’s science project at Santa Fe Middle School (SFMS) in preparation for the Science Olympiad. The students this year are again getting ready to compete at the Science Olympiad at Occidental College on Saturday.

The name says it all … anything is possible if you put your mind to it and that is exactly what the teachers at Santa Fe Middle School encourage their students to do … think way outside of the box.

The Science Olympiad is an international, non-profit organization devoted to improving the quality of science education, increasing student interest in science, and providing recognition for outstanding achievement in science education by both students and teachers. These goals are accomplished through classroom activities, research, training workshops, and the encouragement of intramural, district, regional, state, and national tournaments. The Science Olympiad tournaments are rigorous, academic, interscholastic competitions that consist of a series of individual and team events which students prepare for during the year.

Yanko says the students learn much more than the engineering side of how things work, they also learn a great deal about time management.

The pace at the competition is fast, spirited and the time is limited for the students to demonstrate their particular project. For example, one team is limited to eight minutes to prove that a raw egg would not crack during the experiment.

Each year there are approximately 23 challenging and motivational events that are drawn from the various disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics, computers, and technology. There is a balance between events requiring knowledge of science facts, concepts processes, skills, and science applications.

The Science Olympiad is an international, non-profit organization devoted to improving the quality of science education, increasing student interest in science and providing recognition for outstanding achievement in science education by both students and teachers. These goals are accomplished through classroom activities, research, training workshops and the encouragement of intramural, district, regional, state and national tournaments. The Science Olympiad tournaments are rigorous, academic, interscholastic competitions that consist of a series of individual and team events which students prepare for during the year

Here’s some key points about the training and competition

* science olympiad is akin to an academic track meet and competition is fierce

* a team of 15 students from each school compete in 23 events events cover disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechanical engineering and technology

* 40 middle school teams from the LA area compete at Occidental College on March 4th

* students develop collaborative skills in engineering, research, and information building

* students at SFMS meet and train after school from October to February for the competition

* SFMS has had 1 teacher and 4 volunteer coaches helping the team this year, including one from Boeing and one from JPL.

Engineering events this year included the construction and demonstration of a wind turbine to generate electricity as well as knowledge of wind and other renewable energy sources, a rube goldberg machine utilizing the six simple machines defined by Renaissance scientists, and several others. In order to accomplish these events, students must interpret the rules, build a device that meets the design specifications, and in some cases, impound the device before certain competition variables are announced such as a target distance or launch pressure. This requires students to plan, practice, and collect data so they know how to adjust their device to accommodate change

Other events involved demonstrating deep knowledge and skills in the areas of life, earth, space, and physical science. Events have names like Disease Detectives, Reach for the Stars, Food Science, Crime Busters, Road Scholar, Experimental Design, and Write It Do It.

The competition day was a full day event running from morning to afternoon. After the competition is done, there is an awards ceremony in the evening where students, coaches, and parents alike hold their collective breath as the winners for each event are announced and finally the overall winners for the day. The top six teams will advance to the state level competition where they will vie for a chance to advance to national competition.

 

March 7, 2017

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Terry Miller


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