Kids in Grades 6 – 8 at Northern Lights School Division’s (NLSD) schools are busy preparing for the 2016 APEGA Science Olympics. The Olympics, which replaced the traditional Science Fair, become quite competitive and a lot of fun, Nicole Garner, Communications Officer for NLSD, explains.
“A few years ago, [the Science Olympics] replaced what was our District Science Fair.” the new competition made for some exciting learning experiences. Instead of kids bringing individual or small group projects and explaining and getting judged. “What the Science Olympics does is have Grade-level teams go up against each other,” Garner explains Grade 6 versus Grade 6, and so on. “They’re given a science related challenge and as a team they come out with a solution or design. They test their design or solution and the judges determine which team has come up with the better design or solution.”
The challenges get very exciting, says Garner, “last year one of the projects was to design a rocket!” Students had a two-litre bottle and some miscellaneous pieces to make their rockets, “then they had to fire off everyone’s rocket to see whose flew farthest across the Centennial Centre. Another year they had to build bridges out of spaghetti, cars powered by balloons, those kinds of fun problems. They’re given a problem to solve and materials, then work on their own as a team of students.” Depending on population of the school there could be more teams from one school than another, explains Garner, “it’s one team per classroom, so the smaller schools would have less.”
To determine which students will represent, each school holds mini-Olympics, says Garner, “some of the schools, over the last month or so, have had their own Science Olympics. It’s really competitive at the schools. Students get so excited [for the chance] to be able to go. It’s great to see that level of engagement from the students, they’re clearly very into it. They don’t even realize how much they’re learning; not just science and math, but interpersonal skills, that you need to work with other people.”
The APEGA Science Olympics will be held April 27 at the Energy Centre in Cold Lake and has been an annual event of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) since 2008. Other sponsors include, Imperial Oil, Britton’s Independent Grocers and Canadian Natural.