On Saturday, March 10th, the Two Rivers Community School (TRCS) made its premiere appearance in the North Carolina Science Olympiad Regional Tournament in Hickory. Thirteen 6th through 8th grade students competed against approximately one dozen middle school teams (comprised of up to eighteen 6th-9th graders) in 22 different events.
Perhaps most noteworthy is that the Two Rivers team won the Spirit Award for good sportsmanship. Science Olympiad coordinators noted that Two Rivers students were observed helping their own as well as other teammates, not losing heart when faced with challenges, and proceeding with their events even when they didn’t have handouts to guide them. The team demonstrated the best qualities of the spirit of the Science Olympiad, and helped to demonstrate part of the TRCS mission to build a compassionate community.
The following students also received awards: Landon VanSliederecht and Fairlight Strong (8th graders) took 1st place in Microbe Mission; Rory Greene and Abbey Lehmuth (8th graders) took 1st place in Roller Coaster; Fairlight Strong (8th grade) took 1st place in Rocks and Minerals; Landon VanSliederecht (8th grade) took 2nd place in Disease Detectives; Micah Ireland (7th grade), Jack Nicklaw, and Grayson Scott (6th graders) took 3rd place in Hovercraft; Sebastian Harwood (6th grade) and Micah Ireland (7th grade) took 3rd place in Wright Stuff; and Saylor Vonrosenberg and Amy Latendresse (6th graders) took 4th place in Solar System.
One of the team “rock” stars was Fairlight Strong. On her own initiative, she spent many hours studying in the Appalachian State University’s (ASU) McKinney Museum and getting help from the Geology undergrads, so much that they assumed she was a transfer student rather than a middle schooler! In fact, she became such an expert, that she was even able to identify a rock for which the labeling was missing or unclear. Further, the Geology students and staff confirmed that her identification was correct. The TRCS Science Olympiad team was coached by TRCS middle school science teacher and ASU Biology Alumnus, Mr. Clint Byers, and assistant coach, Dr. Suzanna Bräuer, ASU Biologist, TRCS parent, and former national "Science Olympian".
Additional volunteers who assisted with preparation included the following ASU faculty and staff: Dr. Chris Thaxton (Physics), Dr. Sarah Carmichael (Geology and TRCS parent), Dr. David Sitar (Physics), Dr. Tonya Coffey (Physics), Dr. Michael Osborn (Biology), Ms. Marta Toran (Geology), and Ms. Monique Eckerd (Biology, Animal Facility); the following ASU graduate students: Nick DelPaoli (Biology), Nick Roberts (Physics and TRCS parent), and Katrina Godsey (Biology); and the following ASU undergraduate students: Austin Lubkemann (Exercise Science), Matthew Dye (Physics), Allie Fulp (Nutrition), Madison Dietrich (Chemistry), Nicholas Powell (Geology), Olivia Paschall (Geology), Joshua Gregory (Physics/Astronomy), Matthew Calvel ( Physics/Astronomy), and Taylor Cromer (Biology/Animal Facility). The first place medal winners will also be eligible to compete in the state tournament at NCSU on April 21st, 2018, and the team has already begun preparing for next year’s competition.
Other facts about the NC Science Olympiad this year: There were 36 regional tournaments throughout the state representing 984 schools and 18,000 total students.
The TRCS team formed in November, three months after the rules were released in August. It's impressive that we placed in about 1/3 of the events, despite starting late as well as having no 9th graders and no prior experience.