By Melissa Stanke
On February 13, nine young scientists from Switzerland Point Middle School travelled to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University to compete in 23 science, technology, engineering and math events, known as Science Olympiad. Sixth graders Kelly Yuan, Sophia Crawford, Sievalee Wijayawardhana, Reyana Torres and Malak Ayoub were joined by seventh graders Santhya Raman, Avah Avonda and Katie Kelsey along with eight grader Andrew Knee to complete the Switzerland Point team.
Science Olympiad provides an opportunity for science, technology, engineering and math students to develop, practice and demonstrate their skills in a wide variety of events. Students compete in engineering-based building events, written examinations and hands on inquiry labs.
The young team’s venture commenced in late October when students first began to plan for the competition. For the next four months the students practiced after school and on weekends.
On competition day, students hurried from one building to another, from events ranging from meteorology to anatomy and physiology. Throughout the competition, the students’ leadership and maturity shined through as they overcame obstacles and encouraged both their teammates and students from around the region.
At the end of the day, the students’ efforts paid off. Yuan and Wijayawardhana won a gold medal in Write It Do It, Knee won a gold medal in Crave the Wave and Wijayawardhana and Ayoub won bronze in Air Trajectory. Although the team was young and inexperienced (none of the students had previous knowledge of Science Olympiad) the team placed in the top five in 13 of the 23 events that were offered at the regional competition, which qualified the students for the state competition, which was held at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Against more than 40 middle school teams, Yuan and Wijayawardhana brought a bronze medal back home to Switzerland Point.
Melissa Stanke is the Switzerland Point Middle School Science Olympiad coach.
Photos courtesy Melissa Stanke
Katie Kelsey and Reyana Torres competing in Food Science.