By Karen Daniels
In an effort to raise student awareness in science, SMSD Middle School is participating in a program for 7th and 8th graders, proudly naming their group the Olympiad Spartan Lab Rats. The Science Olympiad is a nonprofit organization developed to improve the quality of science education and increase student interest.
Competing against 27 other area schools, the tournaments are rigorous academic competitions that consist of both individual and team events in biology, earth science, chemistry, physics, computers, music and technology. Their teacher and head coach, Jericah Jackson, spoke proudly of her students’ determination. “I simply get joy out of learning and sharing new ideas with the students and I get excited about the ‘aha’ moments when students explore new concepts and higher dimensions of learning.”
Other schools have been competing for five years, whereas last year was the Lab Rats’ rookie year and unfortunately it was what they refer to as a “character building year.” They came in last at most of their competitions, but over the summer the students worked on their skills to improve, and it paid off.
At their first invitational meet in November 2012, the Lab Rats showed great strides by placing in the top ten in the Forestry event and the top three in the Mousetrap Vehicle event. Since then, the Lab Rats have participated in two additional competitions, improving their proficiency with each one.
“Our goal for our students is they continue to grow and develop our Science Olympiad team. We are encouraging our students to explore, innovate, collaborate, and have fun while working together as a team.,” Jackson said.