SUDBURY – All the singing, cheering, dancing and screaming in the world couldn’t capture the excitement at Science North in April when a team of four students from Little Current Public School (LCPS) were named the overall champions at the annual Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) Math, Science and Technology Olympics.
“I love everything about the day. It’s so amazing watching students work together. And the ones who are there really want to try, and to be there for the event. Their discussions go way beyond what they get in the classroom and they love having their moment to shine,” said LCPS Team 1 coach Casey Boisvert.
This team was made up of Grade 7 students Mackenzie Green and T.J. Green and Grade 8 students Cat Rose and Alan Wilkin. LCPS sent two teams in total to the event.
The day began with a scavenger hunt of 120 questions scattered around the Science North grounds.
“Science North is so big and we had to stay together as a team, which was a challenge,” said Mackenzie.
Next came a math challenge in which the students had to demonstrate fractions using pattern blocks. They were given a shape that represented a certain fraction, then were told to make a different fraction using only the initial shape and what fraction it represented. For bonus marks, they could create up to five alternate designs to represent the same value.
Following a lunch break, the students undertook the final challenge, a building competition. They were given a limited set of materials and were tasked with trying to keep a marble moving for as long as possible.
“We brainstormed at first and decided we wanted to make a funnel, but soon realized we didn’t have the materials. Instead, we built a tower that had a number of different levels,” said Mackenzie.
The students have had some experience with similar challenges in the past; Ms. Boisvert runs a STEM challenge in her class every Friday. Although they tend to be more science-focused as opposed to math, they teach the students problem-solving and collaboration skills, as well as ‘outside-the-box’ thinking.
This was the second year that LCPS had sent students to the event. Ms. Boisvert said they felt much more secure about their chances this year.
“We were super confident going in because at least we knew what to expect,” she said. Some of the students who attended last year were Grade 6 students who had not yet seen any of the Grade 7 and 8 concepts that were crucial during the competition. Those students were back for this year as Grade 7s and were able to contribute more to the team overall.
After the building competition, the judges tallied their results while the team from Science North entertained the students with a science demonstration.
The announcements of the top three schools for each of the three events came in a nerve-wracking format.
“They were calling the winners for all the categories and they all started with L,” said Mackenzie, adding that the similar-sounding syllables led to peaks of excitement and letdowns when another school was named.
The awards for the three events had concluded and LCPS was left to go home without any hardware. That is, until the organizers moved on to the overall champion title which went to LCPS Team 1.
The students said it was a fun event, regardless of the outcome, and the ones who will be returning for next year’s competition are already beginning to scout possible recruits for next year.
Of the students moving onto high school, Cat hopes to pursue a career in accounting and Alan has a keen interest in engineering.