The highest turnout ever in its 32-year run is expected for District 64's 2018 Science Olympiad, which will be held on Saturday, February 3 from 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. at Emerson Middle School, 8101 N. Cumberland, Niles.
This year, 383 students in grades 3-5 will work in teams and represent their home elementary schools in one of five different extracurricular events. Each event is co-sponsored by one of the elementary school PTO/As.
"The interest in science and engineering has never been stronger, and I am very excited to see a record being set this year," according to Dr. Tony Clishem, District 64 Curriculum Specialist, who has overseen the Olympiad for 20 years and is retiring from District 64 in June.
"This demonstrates what we've always suspected: When we encourage kids to do what comes natural to them -- asking questions and solving problems -- we are inviting them to tap into something quite powerful," he pointed out. "Is it a passion for knowing or to discover how to master the natural world? Whatever it is, we know that it can turn into a motivation with the power to sustain students as they venture into new paths of inquiry through high school, college, and career," he added.
"We are very encouraged that the stronger participation in the last several years coincides with the introduction of the District's new science curriculum aligned with Next Generation Science Standards," Superintendent Laurie Heinz pointed out. "We believe our District-wide focus on 21st century learning skills of collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking also is adding to the momentum and inspiring students to seek and enjoy these extra challenges," Dr. Heinz noted.
For 2018, the egg drop is the most popular event with 170 students participating. The line-up includes:
- Aerodynamics: Partners design a paper airplane and throw for accuracy at a target 8 meters (26.3 feet) away. The team that throws with the greatest accuracy wins the competition.
- Egg Drop: Teams of two make an egg catching device that will prevent a raw egg from breaking when dropped from increasing heights. Winners are based on highest drops without damage to the egg.
- Mystery Box: Teams of two identify the characteristics of mystery objects using senses other than sight. Students record their observations on a data chart. The team with the most accurate observations wins the competition.
- Rubber Band Catapult: Teams of two design and construct a catapult that shoots a rubber band at a target placed within a chosen range. Students also present a graph of previous practice results. Winners are based on shooting accuracy plus quality of graph.
- Structures: Teams of two build skyscraping structures with straws and pins. Students who build the tallest, freestanding structure win the competition.
Students who finish their event in first, second, or third place will receive gold, silver, or bronze medals.
Short videos about each event, an introduction to the Olympiad and photos are available on the Science Olympiad webpage.