I spent two days this weekend with other adults who are interesting in encouraging students to be comfortable with science and to want to work in science. I admit I have always been a geek. I love math and science. I love learning more about science.
Imagine my joy when child number 5 decided, in sixth grade, that he wanted to join the middle school Science Olympiad team. Ben was a quick study and managed to learn almost the entire tree list. He also found he was very good at rocks and minerals and at fossils. He did not manage to get involved in very many “tech” events. He did a couple but they were generally evening practices that conflicted with other activities he had.
My youngest soon made it to middle school and was not ready to move from Odyssey of the Mind to Science Olympiad. I told him I didn’t think he could compete in both. They both run at the same time and take up a lot of time in practices. He joined the middle school Science Olympiad team in seventh grade.
I joined the coaching staff with my older son. I say staff but with the exception of a teacher or two, we are all volunteers. We want these students to have the experience so are willing to spend evenings planning practices and then gearing the students up for competition. I generally will spend 2 hours of prep time for every one hour of practice I hold. This is not the norm but I have to, in most cases, learn the material before I explain it to the students.
Three years ago, the regional coordinator stepped down. I watched the state web site, looking for the new coordinator to appear. It was the end of October before I finally sent the email. I would pick up the coordinator duties. I would organize and run a competition for middle school teams in this area. I have been doing so ever since and love it! I run a competition that includes approximately 20 events. The students receive individual medals for first, second and third place in each event. The teams in first, second and third place receive a trophy. The teams that place first and second – and occasionally there is a bonus team also – go on to the state competition. There is a spirit award that is voted on by the event supervisors.
The tournament has a lot of parts to it. I manage to get volunteers to run events. I have to write some of the events. I manage to schedule all the events.
I stress horribly as the date for regionals get near. I am a mess the day of the event. It generally goes without a hitch and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. What these students get out of the event is more than I could possibly have to put into it.