VINCENT - Barlow-Vincent Elementary School's Science Olympiad team is gearing up for the Ohio Science Olympiad Competition after placing first in the Marietta Regional contest, the sixth time the school's team has accomplished the feat in the past seven years.
Not only did the team of 15 students, grades six through nine, place first among 16 teams this year, but teams from Warren Local Schools' other elementaries, Little Hocking and Warren, placed second and third, respectively.
As state competition looms on April 26, Barlow-Vincent eighth-grade science teacher and coach Sandy Vincent is preparing her team for the 23 individual competitions.
Photo by Jackie Runion
Eighth-graders Braden Heitman, right, and Nick Yost, left, work on their simple machine as partners for one of 23 events that Barlow-Vincent Elementary’s team will compete in at the Ohio Science Olympiad Competition.
"We work for about an hour-and-a-half to two hours, three times a week," Vincent said. "They've worked really hard, and we've got a good group this year."
Barlow-Vincent's regional winning legacy is specific to Division B, which includes sixth- through ninth-graders, including two students from Warren High School.
"It takes a community to raise a team," Vincent said. "We have parents volunteering their time, seniors coming in and helping, and it's quite a lot of work."
Marietta Regional Science Olympiad Competition: March 8, 16 participating teams.
* Warren Local: Barlow-Vincent Elementary: first place.
* Warren Local: Little Hocking: second place.
* Warren Local: Warren Elementary: third place.
* All (top three) advanced to state competition.
* The 2014 Ohio Science Olympiad Competition is scheduled for April 26 at The Ohio State University.
A total of 40 teams will compete at the state competition at The Ohio State University, with medals being awarded in each competition for first through sixth place.
Science Olympiad tournaments are rigorous academic competitions that involve creative problem-solving and science knowledge, with two students assigned to each event. Scores for individual events, which range from building instruments to testing on the solar system, are added up to give a combined score for each team.
"Just to medal at state is a big deal, and placing in the top half, it really means that you have excelled," Vincent said. "And Ohio has a strong Science Olympiad program that always does well at national competition."
About 270 teams will participate in this year's state competition, with the top-scoring 60 teams in the country going to nationals.
Sixth-grader Sara Rowland, 12, is competing alongside Barlow-Vincent classmates for the first time.
"I thought it would be fun, and science is my favorite subject, so I decided to do this," she said. "And after this year I think I'm going to keep doing it."
Rowland will be competing in the Boomilever, the Road Scholar and the Water Quality competitions.
Eighth-grader Ethan Walker, 13, is competing for the second year, and among four different competitions, has been busy with partner Allie Levering to build the Rotor Egg Drop.
"Only using wood, glue and just a few other materials, we have to build a helicopter-like structure that when dropped, has to stay in the air long enough to keep an egg it carries from breaking," Walker said. "I really like science, and this is perfect."
Walker, along with other teammates, agreed that Barlow-Vincent's winning team just does the obvious.
"If you want to do good, you have to work constantly, every day," he said.
Warren High School freshman Kaylee Pate, 15, is in her third year of competition, and next year will no longer be eligible for Division B.
"I wish I had started sooner," she said. "I've always loved science, and it sounded like a great experience."
Pate said she chose to stay in Division B this year despite also qualifying for Division C, ninth- through 12th-graders, because she really enjoys the competitions.
"I still plan on doing it at the high school level next year," she said.
Vincent came to Barlow-Vincent in 2007 and immediately started up a Science Olympiad team. The second year under her instruction, the two Barlow-Vincent teams scored first and third at regional competition, and the school's team has placed every year since.
This year, Vincent is hoping to place high at state, possibly even qualify for nationals, something the school has yet to do.
"It can be difficult to challenge kids in the classroom that really need it, and this is an opportunity to challenge them and let them explore," she said. "If you're not in a sport but you're a competitive person, this gives you that chance."
Science Olympiad is an international nonprofit organization devoted to improving the quality of science education.
The 30th Science Olympiad National Competition will take place May 16-17 at the University of Central Florida, with the top 60 teams in Division B and C competing.
Leading up to regionals, Barlow-Vincent participated in one of the several invitationals held throughout the state in New Albany, where students were able to experience what higher competition would be like.