Diving into science

Krystle Wagner • Nov 10, 2015 at 12:00 PM

For the past several weeks, young Grand Haven students have taken a closer look at science.

After weeks of learning and building, students in grades 3-5 will compete in the second annual Grand Haven Elementary Science Olympiad on Nov. 14 at White Pines Intermediate School.

The program gives students a chance to dive deeper into science while learning more about Science Olympiad. So far, 58 students are signed up.

Students from other school districts are also welcome to register by Wednesday, Nov. 11. There’s a $35 fee to cover materials and awards, and students can register online.

The elementary program formed after fifth-graders showed an interest in joining Science Olympiad. They are unable to compete in the White Pines Intermediate School team because the program starts at sixth grade.

Students will have a chance to compete in events such as: Catapult, Chopper Challenge, Crime Busters, No Bones About It, Paper Rockets, Road Scholar, Rockhound, Starry, Starry Night, Straw Bridges and Wetland Wildlife.

Third- and fourth-graders will compete against each other. Fifth-graders are in their own division.

Medals will be awarded for first and second place. Ribbons will be given to fourth through sixth place.

Coaches and high school students have volunteered their time on Saturdays to hold clinics aimed at teaching the younger students about the events.

Families have turned out and participated in the clinics together, said Elementary Science Olympiad coordinator Melissa Jaeger.

“It’s been fun to watch parents and their kids work together,” said Jaeger, a Lakeshore Middle School teacher.

Twice a week, Lake Hills Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Leslie Wampler spends part of lunchtime working on Science Olympiad lessons with students in the school’s media center.

“We don’t have a lot of time to practice, but it’s enough to get them interested,” she said.

Through participating in Science Olympiad, Wampler said her own children learned things that helped prepare them for college and jobs — such as teaching them how to study, learn how to fail gracefully, how to be good winners, how to take tests under pressure, and an “amazing work ethic.”

Wampler said students enjoy building choppers as part of the Chopper Challenge event because she has a pulley in her classroom that launches the objects.

“It’s fun to watch their faces as they get excited about science,” she said.

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