Gearing Up for State

Eighth graders Diego Corrales and Sathvik Vuppunuthula worked on the design of their car making adjustments in preparation of the upcoming Science Olympiad competition.

The Hawthorn Middle School North students are preparing hard for the Science Olympiad competition. There are two teams – junior varsity and varsity with 15 students in grades 6 to 8 on each team. The competition consists of 23 events. Some of the events include Crime Busters, Wind Power, Scrambler, Anatomy and Physiology, Wright Stuff and Write It Do It. These events are coached by parent volunteers and the team’s head coach Sangita Parande and assistant coach Nicole Long.

Illinois Science Olympiad tournaments are rigorous academic interscholastic competitions that consist of a series of team events, which students prepare for during the year. These challenging and motivational events are well balanced between the various science disciplines. Students can choose to compete in two to four events.

The idea behind the scrambler, for instance, is to get a car to move forward a certain distance but also navigate around a barrier in the middle of the track.

“It is very challenging to get the car to make the turn. The car is not motorized. It uses kinetic energy,” said Diego.

Added Jessica Leff, a sixth grader, “Being on this team is fun because you get to build stuff and use different chemicals. You have to keep trying. You don’t go anywhere if you get frustrated.”

Coach Carlos Corrales, a mechanical engineer at Baxter, sees Science Olympiad as very valuable for students. “It pushes students to solve problems on their own, to think about the unexpected.”

Another event requires students to write instructions on how to build a product. Coach Veronica Lucuy said it requires students to understand how to build a model, pay attention to detail, and describe how to build the model. This is the style of writing students must use to write instructions for building IKEA furniture or to explain how to use an inhaler, she said.

The Hawthorn Middle School North Science Olympiad team will compete on Saturday Feb. 11 at the Grayslake Invitationals held at Grayslake Middle School. They will then be competing at the Regional Competition on March 18 at Oakton Community College. The ultimate goal is to qualify for state and then nationals. Toshiba Medical Systems, of Vernon Hills, is sponsoring the MSN team.