Edinburgh Middle School’s Science Olympiad team has just nine members, but for the team, quality over quantity has been the mantra.
Science Olympiad coach Brianne Hubbard started the team last fall, building off her experience participating in the Science Olympiad program when she was in school, Hubbard said in an email.
“I participated in the program every year from seventh through 12th grade and love the different events, the friendships I made and the ability the events gave myself and my teammates to use (science, technology, engineering and math) in a variety of different ways,” Hubbard said. “Science Olympiad offers many different, ever-changing events that touch on different types of science and math, and are engaging and fun. Our team was building bridges and towers, making contraptions that would protect an egg when dropped from various heights and diving deep into individual studies such as astronomy and chemistry.”
Hubbard’s experience inspired her to start the Science Olympiad team at Edinburgh Middle School, which, on Wednesday, learned they had been selected as one of five national winners of the Sparklight Dream Bigger contest, which provides winners $3,000 to expand their Science Olympiad teams.
With the grant, the team will be able to purchase more equipment for events and go on more field trips to experience immersive scientific opportunities, Hubbard said.
“This is an absolute dream come true. The opportunities that winning this contest bring will pave the way for our team’s success for years to come,” she said. “Science Olympiad has many events each season, and they add additional events for state finals. There are events that require building materials—used to create bridges, planes, trebuchets, musical instruments, mousetrap vehicles and more. Sometimes there are specific or specialty items we need to use and we have to order them from shops that have them because they are more difficult to find.”
The team’s inaugural season included students competing in events such as bridge building, ornithology, disease detective, crime busters and green generation. Those events covered areas of study including life, personal and social science; earth and space science; physical science and chemistry; technology and engineering; and inquiry and nature of science, she said.
In bridge building, for example, students are required to construct a bridge that can handle a heavy load of sand, Hubbard said.
“The bridge is weighed before the event starts,” she said. “A chain with a block at the top is put down through the bridge and sits atop it. A bucket is attached to the chain, and sand is added in cupfuls by the student until the bridge breaks or the maximum amount of sand is added to the bucket. The winning team is the team that had the lightest bridge that held the biggest load of sand.”
Another competition, ornithology, requires competitors to identify birds, she said.
“Ornithology is all about the study of birds,” Hubbard said. “The students who participate in this event will need to be able to identify birds, as well as their classification. They can be tested on different bird calls and have to be able to correctly identify which beaks/bills belong to which bird and what they are used for. They should be able to identify different bird eggs and name all the parts of the bird’s anatomy.”
Fifth grader Cole Schoettmer followed his older brother onto the team and was the only student on the team in his grade, Schoettmer said in an email.
During competition events, Schoettmer most enjoyed events involving building and those involving minerals, he said.
“I liked using the power tools in the woodshop. My mousetrap car was in the top 10, number eight, at the state competition,” Schoettmer said. “I like building stuff and cars. The Rocks and Minerals event was good because I like crystals.”
Schoettmer, who hopes to win an event at the state competition next year, is hopeful about the future of the Science Olympiad team after it won the grant, he said.
“It is awesome that we won,” Schoettmer said. “Now we can build our team and continue next year.”