KINGSPORT — Fifty-one Kingsport City Schools Science Olympiad participants from three schools have won a total of 19 first place awards at the state level this year. According to one participant, the program gives students a leg up on college and a chance to make lasting friendships.
Robinson Middle School eighth grade science teachers Daniel Way and Marsha Buck recently reported on the program to city school officials.
“This is a niche for them. This is the for kids who love science,” Buck said. “To them, the idea of studying fossils or thermodynamics is exciting.”
She and Way said current and retired engineers from Eastman Chemical Company and BAE systems are among mentors to the teams.
Eighth-grader Aiden McNabb, Robinson Middle team captain, and senior Rachel Rivera, Dobyns-Bennett team president, spoke to the school board about the Olympiad experience. D-B is in Division C, while Robinson and Sevier are in Division B. Division A is for elementary competitors.
Aiden, who has been in Olympiad for two years, said it helps her and other participants get a head start on college-level work and build lasting friendships. Rivera said her sister, a former D-B team head, is an MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) graduate.
“Science Olympiad just puts you in the right place, the right environment, for success,” Aiden said, adding that it has given her “a deep respect for science, although I’m majoring in political science in college” at Stanford University.
Buck said five of seven National Merit Scholarship finalists in KCS last year were Science Olympiad participants.
As for some other facts about the program:
• Teams have competed in a wide range of subject areas, including 23 team events in each division.
• More than 250,000 students nationwide participate on more than 8,000 Science Olympiad teams.
• The D-B team finished in first place in the East Tennessee State University Regionals.
Way and Buck said the KCS accomplishments are impressive because the competition includes public school systems and private, charter, magnet, and homeschool participants.
At D-B, the Science Olympiad students are Rachel Rivera, president; Nihal Chatra; Vikram Nathan, president-elect; Hunter DeBlackmere; Vincent Gould; Olivia Perkins-Henson; Vandana Nathan; Ben Allen; Evan Thomas; Paul Garrett; Nick Chew; Matthew Barnicki; Fathima Shahik; Dominic Bembry; and Michelle Musesengwa.