Crystal Lake School District 47 students earn medals in science competitions

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Students from all three Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 middle schools – Lundahl, Bernotas and Hannah Beardsley – participated and earned medals at regional Science Olympiad competitions from January to March.

Hannah Beardsley’s team, led by Beth Theiss, earned a bid to state at the regional competition March 10 and placed fourth in Division B at state April 21 at the University of Illinois. The team placed among the top five in 11 events.

“Science Olympiad is such a wonderful opportunity for our students because it blends the excitement of a competitive sport with academics,” Theiss said.

She noted that they had stiff competition at the state level, as many schools have more than one Science Olympiad team and take only their best Olympiads to state.

“I am so proud of our team. They put in many hours of hard work building and studying for their events,” Theiss said.

At the regional competition March 17 at Harper College, Lundahl Middle School’s team, led by Annette Rafferty, was awarded medals in two categories – mystery architecture and roller coasters – and the Lundahl team won the spirit award.

In January, the Bernotas Science Olympiad team, led by Julie Post, attended the first regional competition in Rockford, where six team members earned a medal. The Bernotas team also attended the regional competition at Harper College and earned medals in such events as disease detective, optics and the solar system.

Science Olympiad is an after-school program open to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders who wish to further their pursuit of science education. In District 47, the 15-member Science Olympiad teams at Bernotas and Lundahl are comprised of seventh- and eighth-graders. At Hannah Beardsley, the Science Olympiad team also includes sixth-graders, who this year made up one-third of the team. To participate, students must submit an application and obtain teacher recommendations.

Science Olympiad teams meet weekly throughout the school year to prepare for the regional competitions, which typically consist of 23 testing, lab and building events that encompass such scientific disciplines as earth science, biology, chemistry, physics and engineering.

Students are required to take written tests, perform labs or construct projects, such as hovercrafts, towers or roller coasters. As students prepare for these competitions, they work in pairs and divide the work. Planning and labs are done at the school under the direction of a coach or staff member, but the builds primarily are done at home, occasionally with the help of parents. Photos and video are taken along the way and shared with the coach, who monitors students’ progress.

“I thought that Science Olympiad was a wonderful and enriching experience,” said Avnish Khandeshi, a sixth-grader at Hannah Beardsley. “It meant a lot since I learned so much from it. Anybody interested and willing to work hard should join.”

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