Elementary school science olympiad outshines competition

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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.

From left to right, sophomores Junyi Xiu, Kayla Giset and Mia Lopez, junior Alana Lodin, sophomore Ellaheh Gohari, freshmen Victor Jafet and Andrew Lodin and sophomore Niles Alexis celebrate their team’s second place win. As coaches, they put in hours of hard work throughout the year to get their students to this point. Other coaches not pictured include sophomore Sharon Fernandez and junior Daniel Lopez. (Photo/Patrice Phillipson)
The female coaches relax and enjoy the cool weather before the award ceremony. (Photo/Unchalee Lodin)
The team celebrates their 2nd place overall win. (Photo/Patrice Phillipson)

As a sophomore, Ella Gohari is entering her second year on the Patriot Post staff as the co-Editor-in-Chief for the print newsmagazine. A lover of words, Ella spends much of her time writing, whether it be an article, poem, short story or science research paper. She often writes while listening (and singing her heart out) to music, and is particularly fond of rock bands like Metallica, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. Her ultimate favorite; however, is Queen. Juggling many interests at once, she has been a science researcher with Mrs. Joykutty since 6th grade, and is now a part of the Sigma Xi Science Society. On the weekends, she volunteers with Village Book Builders and OTTER to teach underprivileged children in Florida and around the world. She is excited to co-lead the newsmagazine and can’t wait to see where the year goes.

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