WESTPORT, Conn. – A group of Bedford Middle School students in Westport used their passion for science to propel the school’s Science Olympiad to a national competition in Nebraska next month.
Science Olympiad is an academic competition designed like a track meet, where students take part in 23 events covering science topics including engineering, earth science, biology, chemistry, robotics, forensics, physics, topography and others. Bedford Middle School began participating in the Olympiad last year, and won the state championship in March to advance to the national level.
“They’ve done an incredible job this year,” said Art Ellis, one of the teachers who coaches the team along with Rebecca Kaplan.
The team consists of Ethan Chin, Genevieve Domenico, Derek Ye, Tyler Edwards, Angela Ji, Zach Katz, Charlie Kleeger, Maria Maisonet, Aniruddha Murali, Nishika Navrange, Swami Parimal, Sirinia Prasad, Anisa Prasad, Jory Teltser, Alex Tsang, Tommy Fabian, Mark Ballesteros, Chet Ellis, Vignesh Kareddy, Anna Hill, and Augustin Liu.
Despite being in middle school, many of them are studying high school or AP science topics in order to better learn their subjects. Ellis said they have each put in an average of 1,000 hours of study this year in preparation.
Some of the students are working on designs for things they’ll have to build for their competitions. Tyler Edwards is working on a lightweight wooden glider that is launched by a rubber band and needs to stay in the air going in circles as long as possible.
“You have to design the glider so it purposely turns, but you also have to make sure it has a large enough wingspan and light enough so it falls slowly through the air so it lasts in the air for a long time. So it’s a balance,” Edwards said.
For his RoboCross event, Aniruddha Murali is designing a robot that can move around picking up small objects such as ping pong balls and pennies and carry them to specific destinations. He said that it involves a lot of gears that work like an arm, and he is 3D-printing a claw that can help him better pick up objects.
Other events are more academic, testing students on their knowledge of subjects such as waves, chemistry, topography, ecology and anatomy.
For anatomy, Angela Ji said the students have to study and answer questions on three body systems: the skin, the immune system and the cardiovascular system.
“It’s a lot of stuff. We have to know all the parts, what they do, all the different diseases and their treatments, and then there are diagrams. It’s really hard, but it’s also fun,” Ji said.
She and Genevieve Domenico are also participating in Crime Busters, where they are given a crime scene and have to perform forensic tests.
“We do chromatography, fingerprint identification, soil patterns,” Domenico said. “At the end we have to write an essay about who did, how they did it, who didn’t do it, why they didn’t do it.”
The state competition will take place May 15 and 16 in Lincoln, Neb. Principal Adam Rosen said the cost of sending the students is about $1,000 each, and the club is looking to raise money through donations. Checks can be made out to “Bedford Middle School” with “Science Olympiad” in the memo line and mailed to the school. They have also set up a online fundraising campaign .
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