Explore Middle School celebrated the closing of its first-quarter with the Science Olympics. In the spring of 2021, the staff at Explore Middle School met and chose the Olympics as their topic for the first thematic unit for the 2021-2022 school year. Students, not only in science, were exposed to various topics relating to the Olympics throughout the first quarter. The students explored more traditional and topical subjects, ranging from logistical challenges due to COVID-19 to athlete activism as well.
Throughout the first quarter, students worked diligently in their science classes on the theme. Students were challenged to explore the science behind a variety of Olympic events. Students individually wrote a scientific research paper on a topic of interest related to the Olympics. Media Specialist Jude Balsamo assisted students by hosting an array of workshops ranging from choosing credible sources to fine-tuning technical writing skills. In groups, the students then investigated their topics using the scientific method and the engineering design process. They prepared science fair projects that included experiments of prototypes.
The students’ work was showcased in an Olympic Science Fair held at the middle school where students presented their projects. High Tech High School seniors accompanied by Samantha Doria, the Culinary and Sciences Supervisor, were invited to the school to judge the students’ projects and presentations.
Ms. Doria remarked on the presentations. “The Explore students were truly impressive with their creative approach to the science fair and their willingness to communicate their findings. Our High Tech High School seniors had a great time judging the projects while getting to know this dynamic group of middle schoolers.”
At the conclusion of the presentations, an assembly was held to award the top 3 winners of the fair. Based on the judges’ scores, the top 3 groups were awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals. The assembly began with an Opening Ceremony. Members of the Student Council shared the significance of the torch and recreated the traditional torch relay of the Olympics. Explore then welcomed guest speaker, Olympic Silver Medalist Gail Marquis. Marquis spoke to the student body about her experience as an Olympian as well as her experience as a member of the first women’s basketball team to compete in the tournament. Reflecting on her success, Marquis emphasized the importance of the 3 D’s; Desire, Dedication, and Discipline, when achieving your dreams. After Marquis’s speech, the winners of the science fair were announced. 7th graders Melody Hartman-Kelly, Madeleine Gonzalez, Rubin Seniuk, and Lola Castellano took gold. 8th graders Zia Franco-Koli, Victoria Rich, and Isabella Escobar took silver. 6th graders Antoine Huet, Rajan Grover, and Nicholas Nogueras took bronze.
Commenting on their recent win, Melody Hartman-Kelly stated, “It felt amazing working within our group and seeing our hard work pay off.” Madeleine Gonzalez expressed that the moment felt surreal and Rubin Seniuk shared that the group worked really hard and it was nice to see their work recognized.
The event concluded in the afternoon with Olympic-style competitions, led by Health teacher, Ms. Norrey Benito and Physical Education teacher, Ms. Shannon Mattern. Students from all grade levels were invited to participate in Volleyball, Soccer, and Basketball games while the staff and their peers cheered from the stands.
Supervisor of Instruction and 8th grade Science teacher, Ms. Lauren Norcia reflected on the event. “I was so excited to see the students' projects come together at the end of the quarter. The Science department worked hard throughout the summer and marking period to ensure that students fully comprehended the scientific method and engineering design process through their projects. We are so proud of them! We would also like to thank the student council advisors and members for organizing the Opening Ceremony. The day was filled with excitement and it was a great success!”