The Rye Middle School Science Olympiad Club may be just two years old but its silver medal for second-place overall at the Science Olympiad in Scarsdale March 8 showed competitors that it’s a force to be reckoned with.
By Sarah Varney
The Rye Middle School Science Olympiad Club may be just two years old but its silver medal for second-place overall at the Science Olympiad in Scarsdale March 8 showed competitors that it’s a force to be reckoned with. The team finished 19th last year but was bested only by Scarsdale this time out. Over 50 schools compete in the event.
Club advisers Sal Curella, John Griffin, and Lisa Irvine are hoping to advance in the competition at the statewide finals April 4-6. The top two teams that emerge from that contest will go to Florida for the national competition.
One of the projects the RMS team will present at the state finals consists of musical instruments made out of vegetables. “Because we’re new, we wanted to wow the judges with something out of the box,” said Curella. So far, a flute made out of a carrot is coming along nicely.
But what else does a science contest entail? It’s easy to imagine a winner-take-all robot battle a la The Big Bang Theory, but no killer robots with rotating saw blades here. Instead, the students compete in a wide array of categories that encompass both science and technology. On the science side in the Lab Events category, students test water samples and DNA. They also interpret topographical maps and compete in a Crime Busters category that requires contestants to analyze metal, fiber, hair, and plastics samples.
In the Build Events competition, students enter projects they’ve worked on since the beginning of the school year. Those who show a talent for building are recruited in the fall to construct robots that must stop on a dime, an egg rotor drive that must support an egg without breaking it, and a balsa wood cantilever for the Boomilever contest.
Eighth grader Kristina Marchand built 14 versions of her Boomilever before perfecting it. Not surprisingly, she is the daughter of two architects. “I guess some of their skills rubbed off,” she said.
A Test Events segment is exactly what it sounds like. Club members receive the science topic (anything from anatomy to entomology) in advance and research it. They take a sit-down test the day of the competition.
The subcategories and actual tests change contest to contest. The state competition next month will include three new challenges: metric mastery, sounds of music, and electricity.
“We have just three weeks to get ready for these categories. Anything can happen,” said Curella.
The next round of the Science Olympiad will be held at Greece High School in Rochester. The two teams to beat are Eagle Hill Middle School in Manlius, and the Paul J. Gelinas Junior High School in Setauket, which have taken the top two spots the past five years.
Best of luck to the RMS team members: Michael Ackert, Charlie Paparella, Zachary Slocumb, Emma Dempster, Sydney Gager, Trisha Gollamudi, Nicholas Cich, Marina Grasso-Soler, Lise Powers, Hannah Friedrich, Kristina Marchant, Caroline O, Francesca Murdoch, Jonathon Lloyd, and Allison Hufford.