More than Science: Academic Event Encourages Teamwork, Friendship

Students engage in the Food Webs, Food Chains, and Owl Pellets event.
By: Lauren Blankenship
On Saturday, March 26, 200 elementary students gathered at Roy J. Smith Middle School for the 10th Annual Elementary Science Olympiad competition.

Killeen ISD teachers, administrators, staff, high school students, and the Killeen ISD Education Foundation volunteered to help organize and administer the games. The foundation is a longtime financial supporter of the event.
Students and coaches had prepared for the event for approximately 5 months, meeting outside of regular school hours to train and practice.
Teams of 10 students from 20 Killeen ISD elementary schools competed in the Science Olympiad, hosted at one of the district’s two middle school STEM campuses.
“This event showcases to students that the things they are learning at school really do exist outside of the classroom,” explained Science Olympiad Coordinator Stephani Grisham.
 Throughout the morning, students in grades 3-5 participated in a wide variety of experiments and challenges. They perfected tension for can races, built boats out of foil to test buoyancy, constructed towers out of assorted materials to ultimately balance a tennis ball, and more.

Rachel Schilt, a 5th-grade student at Montague Village Elementary, was a part of the three-member Reflection Relay team for her campus. With each student holding a small mirror, the students worked together to find the correct angles to allow a single laser beam to bounce off of each of the mirrors and land on a target. After her team successfully completed the task, Rachel shared that she was “super happy” that the laser landed on the target.

“We’re doing really well because we are working together as a team,” she said. “This is probably the most exciting thing I’ve ever done!”
After a full day of competing, students anxiously awaited their results. The gymnasium was filled with excited murmurs as the teams reflected on their events together and hoped to hear their names announced as a winner.
“Watching their excitement after they complete an event is the best part,” said coach Jason Kirk of Clear Creek Elementary. “They’re having fun today and that’s all that really matters.”
Dr. Jo-Lynette Crayton, Chief Learning Officer for Elementary Schools, opened the ceremony with congratulations to all students and coaches for their hard work leading up to the event and for their participation day-of.
As names were called out for each individual event, students received medals for first- through fourth-place rankings. Placing teams walked to the front of the gymnasium to accept their medals and were greeted with high-fives, fist bumps, and congratulations upon returning by their teammates.
Skipcha won the first-place trophy. Clifton Park took second place, Cavazos finished in third and Maude Moore Wood won the sportsmanship award.
Throughout the ceremony, the room roared with applause and cheers for each school that was called. Regardless of whether the winners attended their own campus, students could be seen excitedly congratulating each winner.
Students and coaches alike agreed that the months of planning and preparation led to a fun-filled day of competing, not just from an academic level, but because of the bonds that they built together.
“The best part is that I get to do this with my teammates, who are now my friends,” concluded Kamryn Gross, a 5th-grader from Cavazos.