Combining twenty bright, hyper elementary schoolers, late after school meetings, free reign of the science lab and high school students managing it all seems like a recipe for disaster, but Heritage’s first elementary school science olympiad (ESO) team was anything but. Led by sophomore Mia Lopez and sponsored by third grade teacher Mrs. Patrice Phillipson, the Heritage ESO team placed 2nd overall in the Southeast region April 30.
There are 15 unique events in ESO ranging from anatomy to engineering to chemistry, and each high school coach was hand-selected based on their prior performance in these events in middle school. For their work, they received service hours.
While the end result was cause for celebration, the beginning wasn’t all smooth sailing. “I wanted to let other kids have the same fun times and learning opportunities that I did [in elementary school at University School]… but scheduling was super difficult,” Lopez, who serves as ESO president and coaches events Crime Busters, Mystery Packaging and Experimental design, said.
Not only did the high school coaches have their own busy schedules, but so did the elementary school students, with many of them participating in AIMS (the elementary school math competition program), speech and debate or theater.
Meeting every Monday for two hours proved challenging for coaches and students alike, forcing them to turn to more unconventional methods of teaching, such as via Zoom or during the weekend. However, Lopez concluded that “it all worked out” by competition day, particularly highlighting the work the students and coaches put in throughout the year to make this result possible.
Mrs. Phillipson felt similarly. “[I’m] the most proud of the commitment that the upper school students and parent coaches had in coming down [to the elementary science lab] every week, at times multiple times a week,” she said. “To truly take on an extra task of coaching these little kids… I’m definitely the most proud of that.”
Heritage’s ESO team placed in 10 of the 15 events:
Starry, Starry Night: 1st Place
Experimental Design: 1st Place
Rock Hounds: 1st Place
Data Crunchers: 1st Place
Reflection Relay: 2nd Place
ProGamers: 2nd Place
Mission Possible: 3rd Place
Balloon Racers: 3rd Place
Backyard Biologist: 3rd Place
Precision Ping Pong: 3rd Place
In the future, several students, as well as the coaches, plan on taking ESO to new heights. “I want to win first place,” fifth grader Riley Campillo said.