Watch Bobby Schulz and Zach Kant in the Gravity Vehicle Event!
Science is a huge part of what we do at Prairie School. As you walk down the hallway on the way to the Upper School you are bound to hear some excitement as you pass by our Science Labs. This is in large part due to a community of dedicated students who are committed to excelling in problem-solving, experimenting, and engineering. Over Spring Break 15 of these students participated in a state-wide competition called the Science Olympiad, a track and field style science competition where teams leverage their talents across a wide-array of events taking place at the same time. This year’s competition was hosted by UW-Stout. Prairie placed 5th out of 54 teams–our best performance ever![pullquote_left]“The physical sciences are quite strong for us.” -Dr. Jean Weaver, teacher-leader[/pullquote_left]
The Science Olympiad has been recognized as a model program by the National Research Council. It has been around for 28 years and it is the largest team science and technology competition in North America. The competition consists of 25 events including a variety of hands on challenges as well as mind-bending problem solving exercises. Prairie’s specialty? “The physical sciences are quite strong for us,” explains Dr. Jean Weaver, the team’s teacher-leader. “[Any] events where students have to rely on their thinking and problem solving skills as opposed to memorizing a pile of content.”
Prior to this year Prairie’s best performance was 13th place overall. Of the 54 teams Prairie was one of only two private schools. With a great deal of hard work, our team edged out a few other noteworthy area schools: Whitnall took 37th, Washington Park placed 28th, and Brookfield Central came in 11th place. Max Byers and Ben Gelhaus won 3 medals each including one gold medal in Chemistry Lab. Freshman Saphan Shah and Erik Wirtz won 3rd place in the Sumo-Bot competition, which is exactly what it sounds like: students battling one another with their robot creations. Max Byers and Samuel Stewart also took 2nd place in Astronomy.
None of this would be possible without Dr. Jean Weaver’s direction. Jean is a passionate high school science teacher with a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Her enthusiasm is tangible, and it is a joy to see it rub off on her students. Weaver’s encouragement, insight, and leadership empower Prairie’s most engaged science students to excel in competitions like the Science Olympiad. Science teachers Rick Craig and Scott Babcock also contributed to this year’s success, giving students a hand as they prepared for their events.
The Science Olympiad competition is a fantastic display of Prairie’s tight-nit science community. Because of Dr. Weaver and other devoted science teachers like Rick Craig and Scott Babcock, interest in events like the Science Olympiad is growing among students at Prairie. For the first time ever Dr. Weaver had to limit the number of students involved. “I’ve never had to do that before. We had almost 30 kids participate in the Regional!” The team also came up against a few science-related scheduling conflicts. Many students have been stretched thin between the ROV project and the Science Olympiad. Needless to say, this is a busy time of the year for our science department.
Great work everyone, we’re all very proud of you!