The Wellesley Middle School Science Olympiad team worked hard to prepare for the first statewide competition in person since before the pandemic. On Sunday, March 5, that effort paid off as the team tied for third place. Nineteen students competed, each taking on three or four events. Each of them placed in at least one event, including three first place finishes.
The STEM-based competition is run locally by the Massachusetts State chapter of the national Science Olympiad organization. They design the events and publish the rules each year. Twenty-six teams from fifteen schools total participated in twenty-three events in areas of astronomy, chemistry, forestry, meteorology, coding, and more. Some events required a structure to be built ahead according to strict rules, like a wheeled vehicle, musical instrument, roller coaster, or plane. Other events were a test of knowledge like Code Busters, which is a cryptography challenge, and Anatomy and Physiology. The remaining were lab events. For every event, students worked in pairs.
“Seeing the enthusiasm and camaraderie of the kids, as they cheered each other on, was incredibly heartwarming,” said Jonathan Wachs, co-coach of the club and science teacher of technology and engineering at WMS. He added, “In a plugged-in era, with so much time in front of screens, having an opportunity like this for kids to participate in is so valuable. They get real-world, hands-on experience working collaboratively, utilizing their minds and creativity.”
“We’re very proud of the hard work and perseverance the team showed in preparing for the meet,” shared Catherine Longley-Cook, 8th grade science teacher and co-coach of the team. “They’ve learned so many new skills this year and are inspired to take on new challenges.”
When a snow day led to a new competition date, upending the best laid plans, WMS teachers Kathleen Derian (the former club head, now retired), Sarah Gilbert, Melissa Santelli, and Cynthia Peltier, along with parent volunteers, showed up on a Sunday on short notice to help the team. Four former WMS Science Olympiad students now in high school also came to help and cheer on the middle school students. (The state high school competition was held on Saturday, March 4, and the team placed 6th.)
“It’s a testament to the dedication of our faculty and the generosity of the community that so many people showed up to support the team,” said Longley-Cook.
Congratulations to all who participated!
Submitted by Robin Brett Wechsler and Ayla Lari
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