New Albany News

Patel starts Science Olympiad contest for elementary students

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New Albany-Plain Local elementary students now have a chance to compete in Science Olympiad.

The district's first competition for elementary school students was held Dec. 14.

The event was organized by high school student Ashmi Patel, who created the elementary Science Olympiad program as her senior seminar project. The project is a graduation requirement at New Albany High School in which students research an idea, create a product or complete a project and document 80 hours of work.

"I started it to get kids interested in science at a young age, increase student (enrollment) in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) courses in higher grades ... and to serve as a feeder program for the middle school Science Olympiad program," Patel said in an email.

Patel has participated in the Science Olympiad since sixth grade and said seeing other children benefit from the program was rewarding.

"Introducing Science Olympiad to elementary school students and watching them 'do science' has been immensely rewarding," she said. "The students who participated will be able to take this experience and build a stronger base for future studies and beyond.

"I think that, at the very least, students can see what science really is, and be able to apply it to real situations. They are now a part of a Science Olympiad community."

Fourth-grade teacher Pete Barnes said 27 fourth- and fifth-graders participated in practices leading up to the Dec. 14 event.

Patel said the students met every Wednesday from October to December as part of the Impact program offered after school.

"The program was designed and run around four events: A is for Anatomy, Circuit Wizardry, Crime Busters and Mystery Architecture," she said. "These events are focused on anatomy, electrical engineering (and) circuits, chemistry and building with assorted materials, respectively."

Each student was assigned two events and was part of a two-person team.

"At the competition, each student took a test, did a lab or built a tower with their partner for each of the events that they were assigned," Patel said.

Patel said the Dec. 14 competition was held from 9 a.m. to noon at the elementary school annex and was an in-house competition because no other elementary schools in central Ohio have an elementary division of Science Olympiad.

Patel recruited four high school students to work as coaches: sophomores Rana Odabas and Neeva Patel and freshmen Gunnar Wielinski and Prapti Dalal.

Patel said she would recommend Science Olympiad to students of all ages "because Science Olympiad allows students to apply what they learn in their biology, physics and other science classes through practical exercises in a competitive setting."

Patel said she is looking forward to working with the students in a second elementary Science Olympiad session this half of the school year.

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