Richmond Hill Middle School has spent the past two years developing its Science Olympiad program.
Led by several teachers and parent volunteers, this group of sixth- through eighth-graders focused on preparing to face the rigorous challenge of this academic decathlon.
The hard work paid off with a first-place finish in regional competition in the program’s second year at RHMS.
Earth science teacher Amy Beasley splits her time between teaching, coaching cheerleading and Science Olympiad.
Patrick Welch, another program leader, said he is proud of how hard the students work.
“Many students are on double duty,” said Welch, who is the head wrestling coach, assistant football coach, Student Astronaut Challenge coordinator and works with the school’s special-education department. “They are involved in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program, Beta (Club) and more.” said Coach Welch.
Last year, despite all the students’ preparation, they faced many unknowns. Yet they walked away with a fourth-place finish out of nine teams. This was a great start for this new program, according to Beasley.
“Science Olympiad competitions are like academic track meets, consisting of a series of 23 team events in each division (Division B is middle school; Division C is high school),” according to a statement on www.soinc.org. “Each year, a portion of the events are rotated to reflect the ever-changing nature of genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechanical engineering and technology. By combining events from all disciplines, Science Olympiad encourages a wide cross-section of students to get involved. Emphasis is placed on active, hands-on group participation. Through Science Olympiad, students, teachers, parents, principals and business leaders bond together and work toward a shared goal.”
This year, on Feb. 20, Richmond Hill Middle students traveled to Georgia Southern University for the regional Science Olympiad competition, this time fielding two teams. The Gold Team, made up of seventh- and eighth-graders, took home first place. The Black Team, made up of sixth-graders, finished sixth out of 13 teams, according to Beasley, Welch and parent volunteer Erin Mazel.
The Gold Team will move on to the state competition March 19 at Lambert High School in Suwanee.
“The ultimate mission is to create an opportunity to learn more and enjoy learning in a competitive format,” Welch said. “This is what they are good at. They enjoy competing against others. Our school gets just as much recognition for the academics as it does for athletics.”
The sponsors and parent volunteers hope to grow local awareness of the program. They say students hearing from science professionals will benefit the students. Several professionals already have shared their expertise, allowing students to hear firsthand about the fields they are studying and in which they are competing.
Professionals interested in participating should contact Beasley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“For the past 32 years, Science Olympiad has led a revolution in science education,” according to www.soinc.org. “What began as a grassroots assembly of science teachers is now one of the premier science competitions in the nation, providing rigorous, standards-based challenges to 7,400 teams in 50 states. Science Olympiad’s ever-changing lineup of events in all STEM disciplines exposes students to practicing scientists and career choices, and energizes classroom teachers with a dynamic content experience.”