Science Olympiad: A Family Affair

What do you get when you combine equal parts teamwork, commitment, collaboration, and family?

The Tenniswood Elementary Science Olympiad team’s secret recipe for success.

It’s a warm June day, and Tenniswood is hosting an assembly to honor their Science Olympiad team. The whole school is packed into the cafeteria, parents and volunteers lining the back of the room. One by one, the team members walk out to raucous applause, their smiles as bright as their orange shirts.

Behind those proud smiles is a lot of hard work.

All year, Wednesday evenings have been reserved for Science Olympiad practice. It’s not a drop-off and pick-up activity, either. Parents serve as “event coaches,” meaning that they’re hitting the books at home before students even begin to learn and practice. You may see a nurse building a water rocket, a mechanic memorizing the structures of the human muscular system, or an engineer studying different types of rocks and minerals.

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These parents then coach the team on that event, while also working with their own children at home to make sure they understand the many other events they are competing in.

“It’s not a one-day thing, it’s an every-day thing,” explained parent Andrea Highfield.

But the commitment to Science Olympiad at Tenniswood runs deeper than just time spent.

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“We’re all in it together,” said head coach and Tenniswood teacher Stephanie Share. “Even if [a parent is] not the main coach, they’re in there helping.”

“You want the kids to succeed,” agreed Gene Louzon. When his son joined the team as a third-grader, he got a lot of help from the parent coach of the event he would be taking over, giving him a strong foundation. Helping each other is just part of the gig for Science Olympiad parents.

With such a supportive environment, it’s easy to see why Tenniswood has won the district competition and landed in the top three in the county tournament for the past three years.

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“We formed a good team and we worked together a lot,” reflected fifth-grader Natalie Kollmorgen. “Doing everything together made it a lot better.”

Many parents return even after their own children have moved on to middle school, either to train a new coach to take over their event or continue to coach themselves. Students have come back in middle school and even high school to visit and help out.

As Share puts it, “Once you’re part of it, you’re always welcome and you’re always part of this Science Olympiad family here at Tenniswood.”

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