Stone Cold Crazy

That’s what you would call spending a Saturday with almost 60 teenagers!

It’s springtime…well, not quite, but close, so it’s time for Science Olympiad.  Your team has 15 members who compete in 23 events in four hours.  The events cover the range of science and engineering, from Astronomy to bridge building.

This year the school had two teams in both the middle and high school divisions, hence the 60 kids.  That’s a lot of kids bouncing off the walls……

Really, though, they are good kids…..they are the ones who push the door that says “pull.”  Their biggest problem is that they don’t read the rules for the events. Oh, they glance through them the same way that they cliff note books….but they miss important things.  What might it mean if the rules specify that you must wear closed toe shoes?  Perhaps you can’t show up in sandals?  Oh gee, Ms. Wellington, I didn’t think of that.   So there are always a few competition day fails, ninety percent of which are not-reading-the-rules.  Then there is the not finding your way to the test room.  Partner didn’t bring notes.    But when they do it right, they do very very well.

The best thing about this competition, other than it stretches their learning, is that it is constructed to require teamwork.  The way events are scheduled, you must learn several and then be flexible when the schedule comes out.  All the biology events might take place at the same time, so you can’t win a tournament by having just one star biology person.  Most events are done by two people, with a workload that will require both.

Working with these bright, self-motivated teens is fun, though, especially when you can see the “aha!” light come on and you know a few more neurons just got connected.  Maybe the world isn’t going to hell in a handbasket.

My reward for the competition?  I get to go with our high school team to Knoxville for the state competition.  And even though I keep wondering why I do this….I come back every year.

Not crazy at all…..


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