Sarah Katz and Mackayla O’Meara receiving the Mission Possible award from Jon Kull, dean of the School of Graduate and Advanced Studies

LHS Competes in the Science Olympiad

Submitted 9 months ago
Created by
Amanda Skinner

On a cold and snowy Saturday morning in December two hundred middle and high school students made their way into the Life Sciences Center at Dartmouth. This impressive crowd were not here for any sporting event, but were arriving for a competition of a different kind: the 2017 Northern New England Science Olympiad Invitational – the first to be hosted at Dartmouth.

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Twenty teams with coaches and family supporters fanned out through the building after registration to get settled into their team headquarters and start some final preparation for the 23 events in the competition. Their knowledge of almost every field of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) would be tested in 23 different events that were being run that day.

“It’s very much like a track meet,” explained Lebanon High science teacher and tournament co-director John Tietjen. Teams came from all over Northern New England, the furthest being from New York city, to compete for the highest score in 23 standards-based events running throughout the day. All the events, or tests, were written by volunteers from the community, many of whom had participated in Science Olympiad, a nationwide competition, in high school.

“I participated in Science Olympiad in middle and high school. I am a big fan of the Science Olympiad program,” said Ashley Lang, a 3rd year PhD student in the Ecology graduate program at Dartmouth, and steering committee leader for the 2018 tournament. Dartmouth undergraduate Christopher Kartsonis (’21), who had participated as a competitor while at high school, not only wrote a test and answer key, but reached out to his former teammates who are now undergrads at Duke and Yale, and asked them to contribute. “I was a member of the Harriton High School team for the past four years and have some really amazing memories of those four years,” he told us.

This was not just an opportunity for Dartmouth students to be involved, and the event drew interest from the entire community, with approxi­mately half the volunteers coming from Lebanon High. Parents, previous competitors, family members, even the art teacher and librarian showed up to help the event run smoothly and to maintain the high standards set in 2016 when the tournament was hosted at Lebanon High.

Sarah Katz and Mackayla O’Meara working on the Mission Possible build

“In order for our tournament to be a success,” explained John, “we need quite a few volunteers. We offer every volunteer a free lunch and t-shirt and the promise of a very fun, possibly chaotic, but ultimately very inspiring and rewarding day.” More than 50 volunteers gave their time and, along with generous funding from the Byrne Foundation, made the 2017 Tournament a resounding success. “We had a brilliant tournament,” said John, “with glowing reviews from coaches and students,” he reported.

Although teams are competing for medals and trophies across the events and there were some big winners at the final award ceremony. Dean of the School of Graduate and Advanced Studies at Dartmouth, Jon Kull commended everyone telling the teams “you worked hard to challenge yourselves. The efforts are not unnoticed, and it’s worth remembering that science discovery is a process of getting all the answers wrong, and not giving up. The discovery and application of new knowledge is what we are all here for, it’s our passion and so, no matter where you place in the events, you should all give yourselves a round of applause for your efforts and initiative.”

Lebanon High teams came 11th and 12th, with the overall winning team being from Plattsburgh High School in New York. Individual event scores saw Lebanon High students take first place in the Forensics event, and second place in Chemistry and Hovercraft competitions.

Emma Thibodeau and Alex Munteanu, recipients of the Mousetrap Vehicle award from Jon Kull

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