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RRMS Science Olympiad Team Preparing for Events

The Rocky River Middle School Science Olympiad team has been working hard to prepare for multiple events over the next two months, leading up to the state tournament.

“We started meeting at the beginning of the school year, gathering students from last year’s team and recruiting new students,” coach and advisor Mrs. Michelle Gibson said. “A lot of the interest is word of mouth and we started out with about 50 students who were interested. This year, we have two, 15-person teams and alternates.”

The first competition of the season for the Science Olympiad Team was held on Dec. 8 at Sylvania Northview. The team came in eighth place overall and had several individuals earn medals for top finishes in events.

“We have never been in the top-10 of an event during my four years as a coach so that was very exciting,” Gibson said. “The depth of content for these events is high school level for middle school kids and college level for high school kids.”

Individually, Mel Harmath and Adam Beach placed second in Write It-Do It, while Morgan Way and Allison Kressler were third in the same event. Cora Mathewson and Ellie Harkins claimed third place in Water Quality and Sophia Vasiloff and Rasmy Shahin were fourth. Mathewson and Alia Esobedo earned fourth place in Herpetology.

For people who do not understand how Science Olympiad works, Gibson explained that it is very similar to a track meet.

“There are 23 events and we compete as a team with a maximum of 15 people,” Gibson said. “Events are judged individually and students can receive medals for the events they compete in. You are scored as a team as a whole.”

Three of the categories – Life, Personal and Social Science, Earth and Space Science and Physical Science and Chemistry – are broken into five events, while the final two categories – Technology and Engineering and Inquiry and Nature of Science – have four events each.

Examples of the 23 events include Heredity, Herpetology, Fossils, Solar System, Potions and Poisons, Boomilever, Roller Coaster and Write It, Do It.

The Science Olympiad team has three more competitions – Jan. 19 at Kenston HS, Jan. 26 at Westlake HS and Feb. 16 at Mentor HS – leading up to the regional competition on March 2 at St. Ignatius HS.

The state meet is hosted by Ohio State on April 27. Ohio is seventh overall among all states in the number of teams competing in Science Olympiad.

Events normally begin at 8:00am and run until roughly 2:30pm with awards presentations wrapping up the day. Despite working as an individual or with a small group at events, the students know that Science Olympiad is a team activity. Gibson stated that this year, the group is focusing more on team building activities and feels that the team is becoming a much more close-knit group, leading to early-season success.

“It’s an all-day event,” Gibson said, noting that the team departed Rocky River at 6:00am for the trip to Sylvania. “We have a home base wherever we go and the team plays games together, does homework and bonds when they are not competing.”

Preparation for the events happen when the team meets on Tuesdays after school, but students also put in time away from school, making Science Olympiad a self-driven activity. Students research their topics and build on their own time.

 “We have qualified for the state meet every year I have been coaching, but it continues to get more and more competitive,” Gibson said. “I couldn’t do any of this without the support of assistant coach Deb DeCarlo and all of the parent support and volunteers we receive.

“Science Olympiad is a great way for students to be exposed to all different areas of science and careers in science. It helps keep students interested in science by allowing them to do what they want to do, enjoy learning and be recognized with something they are passionate about.”