HAMMOND | Hammond schools have been training for months for today's Science Olympiad at Morton High School.
Mary Rykiel, one the Science Olympiad coaches for Morton Elementary School, watched her team win the Spirit Award at the last tournament and hopes they will have another successful season.
A former Girls on the Run coach, Rykiel has a 15-member team this year comprised of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders.
Weekly training and workshops focused on problem solving and hands-on, constructivist lessons. The program brings science to life while teaching students teamwork and cooperative learning skills.
In the tournament, students participate in a variety of science and math related events. There will be a gold, silver and bronze medal awarded for each event. The Spirit Award is given to the school that exhibits the most spirit.
“This year, I’m sure we will win the spirit award. We won it the past five years in a row. Morton is going to do great this year and I can’t wait for the tournament,” said fourth-grade Science Olympiad member Stephanie Haynes.
Through experimentation, students are encouraged to be inquisitive. After all, why can't rain be saved in cloud banks? And why isn’t H20 hot water and C20 cold water?
Rykiel motivates students to experiment not only in science, but with all the programs the Hammond schools offer.
“Girls on the Run, the last program I coached, was also an inspirational experience. It was wonderful to see students try something new and gain confidence through the programs," she said.
"I believe that extracurricular programs make a difference in children’s lives and I think it gives the children an opportunity to try new things and find out what they love,” said Rykiel.
Aside from promoting students to be goal-oriented, Rykiel is also in the process of accomplishing her long-term goal of obtaining a principal’s license in May from Wesleyan University.
By challenging herself and her students, Rykiel strives to be a role model for her students and family.
“I believe a good role model inspires others to be the best they can be. I enjoy supporting Hammond’s programs that benefit our students,” Rykiel said.