Early childhood through grade 12

Hawthorne Valley Association

On February 3, 15 High School students traveled to John Jay High School in Hopewell Junction, NY, to participate in Division C of Science Olympiad. This is the fifth year a team from Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School has participated.

When Eileen Lee first joined HVS as the High School administrator, she was impressed by a model bridge that was displayed in an office at the school. It immediately made her think about the Science Olympiad, which her sons had participated in for several years at Columbia High School.

 “With the math and science Main Lessons and the arts curriculum here, I saw so much potential for the students here to do well,” Ms. Lee said. So she asked some students in the Class of 2023 if they would be interested in creating a team, and with support from parents Michele and Michael Kowalski, she formed a team of 3 students for the 2020 competition.

Science Olympiad, part of a national non-profit organization, involves students teaming up to take 50 minute tests in various scientific subjects, some focused on building and some academic-based. Each event allows students to bring different levels of support, from one pagers to binders of information on the subject to reference.

Each year, HVS’s team has grown as students enthusiastically shared their experience with their peers. This year, the HVS team—supported by Ms. Lee, Dr. Simon Frishkoff, and Abe Madey—participated in 12 events, one building and 11 academic. Overall, there were 35 teams representing 21 schools. While all the students did well, the team’s most successful events were Tower (13th out of 25), Anatomy & Physiology (15th out of 31), and Forestry (17th out of 28).

Fiona Middlebrook, Grade 9, competed in the Fossils event where each team visited different fossil stations and had two minutes to answer questions about each one.

“It was really fun to take a test as a team,” Fiona said. “It was much less stressful because what I didn’t know, my partner did.”

While students were given the opportunity to prepare, they also could participate in an event without any preparation to benchmark their knowledge.

“I joined the team because it seemed like a lot of fun last year,” said Scarlet Sansone, Grade 11, who participated in the Dynamic Planet event. “It was very low key and great to work with a partner to collaborate on a test.”

In his High School interview, Theo Bergquist, Grade 9, mentioned how much he enjoyed the Anatomy and Physiology blocks in Middle School, and Ms. Lee encouraged him to try the Olympiad. “It was fun to see where my skill level is in Anatomy and Physiology,” he said. “My partner and I finished early, which many teams didn’t, and that was a good feeling.”

When they weren’t competing in their events, the students could view the building events or spend time at their classroom home base. Thomas Madey, Grade 9, who competed in the Tower and Codebusters events, said he really enjoyed seeing what ideas and techniques other people brought to the building events, particularly in Robotics.

Ivy Smith, Grade 9, competed in Anatomy & Physiology and Disease Detectives. “It was fun doing the tests, knowing the answers, and doing well,” she says. “I also got to know the upperclassmen better and learn more about their interests.”

In addition to the social benefits of competing together, Ms. Lee sees the Olympiad as a way to reinforce the Main Lesson curriculum and teach academic skills, like organization, in a fun setting.

“It’s such a good opportunity for them to not only test their knowledge and skills in the sciences, but also learn test-taking techniques without even realizing it,” Ms. Lee said. “They can bring notes into some events, but if they don’t clearly organize things, they won’t have time to find the answers.”

Many students are enthusiastic about returning to the Science Olympiad next year to see how they can improve and to try new events. Each team is limited to 15 students, and with the number of students expressing interest in participating, Ms. Lee is planning on organizing two teams for the 2025 Science Olympiad.

We would like to congratulate all the students for their participation in their chosen events:

Alex Beck (Grade 9): Codebusters & Tower

Theo Bergquist (Grade 9): Anatomy & Physiology & Codebusters

Hugo Crane (Grade 11): Astronomy & Write It Do It

Fabian Gitt-Henderson (Grade 11): Fermi Questions

Miriam Harbarth (Grade 11): Dynamic Planet

Thomas Madey (Grade 9): Tower & Codebusters

Fiona Middlebrook (Grade 9): Fossil

Emma Orzari (Grade 10): Ecology

Robin Proechel-Bensman (Grade 11): Astronomy, Geologic Mapping & Forestry

Eliot Saavedra (Grade 9): Fossil

Scarlet Sansone (Grade 11): Dynamic Planet

Ivy Smith (Grade 9): Anatomy & Physiology & Disease Detectives

Oliver Towe (Grade 11): Fermi Questions & Write It Do It

Estrella Van Dyk (Grade 10): Ecology

Noah Vom Stein (Grade 11): Geologic Mapping, Disease Detectives & Forestry

For more information about Science Olympiad, please visit their website.

- written by Sushannah Laurange, Communications Manager.