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Dominion Blog

Science Olympiad: STEM Success at State Competition

Posted by Savannah Hard on Apr 7, 2022 2:45:59 PM

Myth: Classical schools teach humanities well, but they don’t have strong math or science programs. ⁠

Truth: A classical education includes extensive study of math and science, which were historically part of the liberal arts. A quality liberal arts education pursues excellence in science and math, alongside humanities and arts.  Many of the great minds that formed some of the most significant ideas and innovations of their time were remarkable scientists, logicians, linguists, rhetoricians, historians, and theologians. The likes of Edison, Franklin, Galileo, Newton, and other great scientists were all classically educated!  It is similarly notable that classically educated students today tend to enjoy higher scores in mathematics and science on the high school SAT than their non-classical peers.⁠

One of the highlights of our science program is Science Olympiad. 

This year our Science Olympiad team went to regionals, and our students did a wonderful job! In regionals, we finished 10th, which earned us an invitation to the state tournament.  At regionals, students earned medals in Sounds of Music, Mission Possible, Mousetrap Vehicle, and Ping Pong Parachute.

At the state tournament held at UVA in March, we competed as one of the top 24 middle school teams in the state.  Students earned medals in Electric Wright Stuff, Crime Busters, and in Mission Possible.  

While it’s fun to celebrate our medalists, there are great benefits to the program that aren't revealed with medals. Some of the hardest working kids on our team did not get medals this year—their rewards are more intangible, but no less significant.

Here’s a note from Sharon Dykhoff, our wonderful Science Olympiad coach:

The most rewarding part of being a Science Olympiad coach for me is seeing the kids persevere through all the challenges involved in preparing their build events for competition. I do not have an engineering background nor a natural aptitude for building contraptions, so guiding middle school students through the build events helps me understand how challenging these events are for them. Reading and understanding the complex rules is only the first hurdle. They also must consider the constraints of the materials and tools that are accessible to them. Then, the iterative cycles of the engineering design process will test the endurance of each kid, but their resilience grows and they face and overcome setbacks. Every year, at least one build team is tempted to give up, but as their other teammates jump in to help them brainstorm solutions, they regain traction and carry on. Finally, when their device is built and working reasonably well, they must muster the energy and tenacity to run all the necessary tests to create logs and graphs of their test data. At this point, they have all become winners, whether they earn a medal at the tournament or not. They have met the challenges and they did not quit. That is the most rewarding experience for me as a Science Olympiad coach.

For more information about our Science Olympiad program, please contact Sharon Dykhoff at sdykhoff@dominionschool.com.