All 11 students at Yadkin Valley Community School competed in the North Carolina Science Olympiad recently, and one team of three came out with first place honors.
Families from the “little school-that-could” departed for Lenoir Rhyne University at 6:30 a.m.
“This was our first year competing,” school representatives wrote in a blog about the competition. “We had told ourselves for months that we were just doing it for the experience and that, if nothing else, we would learn a lot. We were by far the smallest team (in both number of students and stature).”
Typically, Science Olympiad teams are made up of 18 students in ranging from fourth through sixth grades, and sometimes with third-graders.
“Our team included all 11 of our students, kindergartners, first-graders and all. And we were competitive, not coming in last in any of the events in which we competed. Our STEM Design Challenge team even walked away with the first place medal.
“When I look back on our first Science Olympiad, I’ll think of Eli (kindergarten) and Elijah (first grade) taking the field on that rainy Saturday morning to launch their bottle rockets, surrounded by older, more experienced competitors,” they wrote about why the event was a success for the school. “They were confident, independent and focused. After their launch, they were all smiles as they ran off the field, feeling so proud.
“I’ll think about Maia (fourth grade) and Isaac (fourth grade) studying for their event almost every afternoon. I’ll think about how serious, responsible and organized they were because they had a lot of materials to manage and a lot of information to remember. I’ll think about Sarah (third grade) and Blaze (second grade) having more dedication than most adults I know. They built a prototype of their catapult, worked out the kinks and then built their final product out of recycled materials. Their catapult wasn’t fancy, but it worked like a champ. They dedicated the whole day before the competition practicing their launching technique, never complaining or growing bored of the task. Finally, I heard Blaze yell, ‘Come see. We hit the bullseye. We hit the bullseye.’ Their enthusiasm was contagious, and we all shared in their excitement.
“I’ll think of Ellie (first grade) and Caroline (fourth grade) doing research, making dozens and dozens of paper airplanes and having a lot of fun decorating them (even though that was not part of the criteria). I’ll think of them waiting so patiently, for about an hour, on the gym floor the day of the event because the competitors were called alphabetically by school, and Yadkin Valley Community School was always dead last.
“I’ll think about Henry (fourth grade), Jesse (fifth grade) and Tate (fifth grade) finding their groove as a team. I’ll think about that team working like a well-oiled machine on competition day. When the event leader said, ‘Start!,’ they knew exactly what to do. And when the event leader told them their track was too big, they respectfully (although a little frantically) explained that it wasn’t too big if you turned it diagonally. They knew the rules and they were confident in their design.
“I’ll think about Julie and Anna, our two high school interns who (voluntarily) got up very early on a Saturday and drove to Hickory to support our students. It made our kids’ day to know that Julie and Anna cared enough to do that. I’ll think about Mr. D cheering for the kids and consoling those that didn’t place.”
The staff said, “Yes, this was a great learning experience…we just learned different lessons than I anticipated.”