Elementary students compete in Science Olympiad

Elementary students compete in Science Olympiad

The winning Banks Elementary School Science Olympiad Team poses with their medals. Photo by Patrick Holmes / Lenoir County Public Schools

Lenoir County elementary students took over Kinston High School on Saturday as they competed in the Lenoir County Science Olympiad.

The three rounds of competition marked the culmination of months of preparation on the part of students and coaches. Dr. Amelia McLeod, director of Middle School Education with Lenoir County Public Schools and the organizer of the Olympiad, said the level of commitment required of the students who participate is on par with student athletes.

La Grange Elementary School coaches Gwen Smith, Alicia Davis and Georgia Tingen said that their students have stayed an extra ninety minutes after school once a week since the school year began in August. Sixteen students from La Grange were competing Saturday. The coaches said that they were proud of how the kids performed. “They reached their potential,” Davis said, “and the hard work they put in through the year has paid off.”

Students test the strength of their pasta tower while Amy Jones, Karen Croom and Paige Herring oversee the competition. The pasta tower competition challenged students to engineer the strongest possible tower out of uncooked pasta with the minimum weight. Students were scored on the ratio of the weight of the tower to the weight the tower could support. Photo by Catherine Hardee / Neuse News

The 160 students, who represented all of Lenoir County’s elementary schools, competed in eighteen different events, ranging from bottle rocket flights to engineering competitions. For some, the students built something for the competition, such as a bottle rocket or pasta tower. For others, the students were required to study information on a topic, and the event tested their ability to recall and analyze what they had learned about topics such as biology, meteorology or ecology.

All of the events, according to Tingen, are designed to work on the students’ mindset. “It’s ok if something doesn’t work out the first time,” she said. What’s important, she said, is that students learn to work together to solve problems.

The event would not have been possible, McLeod said, without the dozens of volunteers who came out on a Saturday to help things run smoothly. There were high school student volunteers who helped get the competitors to the right places at the right times, and and adult volunteers who arranged snacks and lunch for the students. McLeod said they were also grateful to their corporate sponsor, Suddenlink, who helped with the cost of providing t-shirts and food for the event.

Whether they built bottle rockets or learned to identify a tree by its leaves, all of the students who participated in the Olympiad will benefit from learning problem-solving skills and a love of science, according to McLeod.

After the competition was complete, there was an awards ceremony to recognize the winning teams. The team from Banks Elementary School finished first, with Southwood Elementary coming in second, and La Grange Elementary coming in third.

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