Elementary school Science Olympians surge into third

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A staple in upper school extracurriculars, Science Olympiad remains a popular activity at Heritage — but the competition doesn’t merely start in middle school. A select few elementary schoolers have the opportunity to compete in the elementary branch of Science Olympiad, with events that mimic those found at the middle and high school levels.

After preparing the entire year with the help of volunteers, including high school tutors — some of whom competed at Science Olympiad when they were in elementary school — and parental advisors, the Elementary Science Olympiad (ESO) team competed at the county level Apr 26. They snagged third overall.

“I’m proud of them because they took what they learned and did the best they could,” junior Nicholas Diaz, the volunteer tutor for the Balloon Racers engineering event, said. “The car they made performed extremely well, much better than some of the other cars. Plus, they designed it completely themselves.” Although they didn’t place in the event, the students and coaches alike learned what to do for next year.

The ESO competition includes a variety of pre-build events, test events with a binder of content to study and on-the-spot events whose prompts are given at competition. One event, Fossils, required students to familiarize themselves with various fossils and learn how to identify and classify them: a challenge that 4th grader Maxwell Cohen rose to. “I had a whole binder to study fossils and I tried to memorize the whole sheet,” Cohen said. Winning second place in the category, he felt, “showed that all [his] hard work paid off.”

While the competition was difficult — a school from Indian River County enrolled in Broward’s competition and ultimately took the first place award — the elementary school team found some success in individual events, including first place awards for CodeBusters; Circuits; Starry, Starry Night and Keyed to Science.

“There were a few things that could’ve gone either way – a couple of uncontrollable happenings. Overall, though, I feel we did a fantastic job as a team and really came together,” Mrs. Connie Versteeg, the teacher advisor for the team, said. Now with one year of sponsoring ESO under her belt, Mrs. Versteeg hopes to “be more organized… and get to know the coaches better.” 

The team will continue next year with almost an entirely new coaching board and a new slate of events – while some of the graduating 6th graders will move onto the middle school iteration of Science Olympiad and beyond.

The Elementary Science Olympiad team shows off their third place trophy, a culmination of all individual event scores added together. Students who placed in event categories also received medals for their efforts. “To be successful [in middle and high school Science Olympiad], we need to start at the elementary level,” Mrs. Unchalee Lodin, one of the head coaches for both the elementary and middle school Science Olympiad teams, said. “The kids are fed into middle and high school [teams], progressing in knowledge each time they compete.” (Photo/Unchalee Lodin)

Senior Ellaheh Gohari is entering her fourth (and sadly final) year on staff and third year as co-EIC of the Patriot Post. She loves learning new things and can often be found going down Wikipedia rabbit holes in search of random knowledge. Outside of room 25310, she serves as co-president to both the Girls Excelling in Math and Science club and the Science National Honor Society. A science-lover, she enjoys exploring the subject through research projects with UMiami, volunteer tutoring with OTTER and fact-checks with MediaWise. She hopes you enjoy your time reading the Patriot Post.