Vickery Creek Middle School’s Science Olympiad team was admittedly a bit intimidated when it arrived at Harvard University on Feb. 9.
This was Harvard, after all, one of the world’s most prestigious universities, and the team knew it needed to be prepared for challenges and questions in subject areas ranging from anatomy to meteorology that were designed by Harvard’s own students.
Plus, the Vickery Creek team of 15 sixth- through eighth-graders carried a little bit of history on their shoulders as the first middle school Science Olympiad team from Georgia to ever compete in Harvard’s invitational-only tournament.
“You’re talking about Harvard,” said Brigid Savage, a STEAM instructor at Vickery Creek and the school’s Science Olympiad sponsor. “… You’re going to have that level of knowledge that the kids know is of the upper-echelon.”
Vickery Creek managed their nerves just fine, finishing 10th out of 23 teams.
“I’m super proud of them,” Savage said. “They worked really hard.”
That experience at Harvard came in handy. On March 2, Vickery Creek’s Science Olympiad team won their region tournament to qualify for the Georgia Science Olympiad on Saturday, March 16, at Kennesaw Mountain High School.
Science Olympiad is one of the largest K-12 STEM organizations in the country, and their competitions consist of 23 subject areas with knowledge-based, building and experimental-design events. Each event has its own scoring rubric and set of rules. The lower the score, the better, Savage said.
The events were challenging at region, but not to the degree that they experienced in Harvard.
“Harvard geared them up towards, ‘OK, this is what we have to study. These are our weakness areas, and these are our strengths. Let’s work on our weak areas … and make our team better,’” Savage said.
The improvement was obvious. Vickery Creek finished in the top 3 in 18 out of 23 events at the competition.
Now, they’re eager to do the same at the state competition this weekend, with a newfound quality they developed at Harvard.
“The fierceness of confidence in themselves,” Savage said, “that we can do this.”