Science Olympiad: Let the Games Begin
The sizzling sound of chemicals under the heat of a Bunsen burner. The acidic smell of a reaction taking place in a graduated cylinder. The sight of starch changing from white to blue-black beneath a drop of iodine. These sensations are more than familiar to members of Science Olympiad—they have become almost commonplace. “Science Olympiad involves team competitions in the areas of biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering,” said Haley Tam, senior member of the club. “We are able to work on different projects for the club until the competition.”
What sets the class Science Olympiad apart from other classes in the science department such as Anatomy and Physiology or Forensics is that it also functions as a club. “I love the competition aspect of the Science Olympiad club,” said Megan Hill, a senior who is enrolled in the class and also participates in club meetings and competitions. “I am usually really active in drama and arts clubs, but this is my favorite academic club.”
Ms. Robin Free, who teaches Chemistry and AP Environmental Science at BT in addition to teaching the Science Olympiad class and sponsoring the club, agrees that students receive opportunities in the class and club that they cannot get in any other. “As a class and as a club, students get to explore different scientific disciplines that aren’t offered in any other BT class, like fossils, and all sorts of other things they wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise,” said Ms. Free.
The class members participate in a variety of activities to enhance their own scientific knowledge and prepare club members for the high-maintenance atmosphere and demanding projects of club competitions. Although it is not necessary to be enrolled in the club in order to take the class and vice versa, the two are so interconnected that most participants are involved with both. “I am in both the class and the club because I want to be able to take what I worked on all year in class and bring it to compete with others to see how well I have done and what I could have done better,” said Haley Tam.
The class members participate in a variety of activities during class, including building mouse trap vehicles, racing them, and experimenting to find the best way to create aerodynamic gliders. Individual work, partner work, and group work are all utilized during the course. “The class is really laid back and largely driven by student interest. I love the freedom to experiment and learn through hands-on labs,” said Megan.
So what will you gain from taking the class, enrolling in the club, or both? Madeline Bolger, senior member of the class, looks forward to exercising her creative side in the class. “I joined Science Olympiad because in middle school I did a similar thing called Odyssey of the Mind which I liked. There are different events you can do in the class. In some of them you build stuff like robots and cars, and others are more artsy and creative, so there’s really something for everyone.”
Haley Tam has another convincing reason to join: “The last class of every week, we bring in donuts and other breakfast food, which is really fun.”
Although enrollment into the Science Olympiad class is closed until next spring, the club is still quite active among the student body and accepting new members. “It can open up your mind to other areas that might interest you that you’ve never thought about,” said Ms. Free. “Science Olympiad can give you a good background and launch you into new areas of science.”