Team aces national contest while getting hooked on science
For just $100, or “the cost of a pack of Scan Trons,” as Seventh Grade Science Teacher and National Science League Contest advisor Steve Wilson aptly put it, middle school kids across the nation can compete to test their science acumen and “get started thinking about a career in science.”
Ten students at Parkwood Middle School did just that recently, competing with 123 schools nationwide and testing their knowledge of earth science, life science, chemistry and the like. Parkwood’s seventh and eighth grade team placed third in the nation, and seventh-grader Neil Svedberg took home a silver medal after tying for second and missing just two questions on this 50-question test.
This is an improvement over last year’s impressive 17th place ranking, earned by submitting each grade’s top scores. To prepare for this year’s event, Wilson and fellow advisors—seventh-grade science teacher Michelle Melton and eighth-grade science teacher Jordan Marmara—hosted review sessions that met on a weekly basis, and which according to Wilson made the team more competitive.
The teachers also created a website with links to study-worthy information. “The test was tougher than the EOGs,” seventh-grader Eann Lawing explained. “It tests your general knowledge about topic covered from sixth to eighth grade.”
Every test has a curveball and this year’s National Science League exam proved no exception.
“This year’s test was harder than last year’s,” eighth-grader Collin Tidwell said. Fortunately, according to fellow team member eighth-grader Earl Christian, seventh-grader Jordan Mueller, Lawing and Svedberg, the answers were straightforward in a way EOGs are not. “With every question it was clear that there were at least two wrong answers,” Tidwell explained.
In addition to bragging rights and accolades proudly posted all over Facebook, Melton noted each student also received a certificate along with special National Science League recognition.
The National Science League started offering these tests in 1981, with the aim to supplement school science programs by enticing students to science through competition. While Eann and Svedberg always enjoyed science even as young children, for some other Parkwood members this was not always the case. Thanks to the contest however, it is certain that many may stay hooked and continue down this path for years to come.
“To me it’s kind of a nice thing,” Wilson says. “In an environment where there are lots of budget cuts, this contest offers an affordable and reasonable way to compete and get kids interested in science.”