Kennedy Catholic’s Science Superstars By: Meenu Johnkutty and Lauren Telesca

Kennedy Catholic Students Compete in Science Olympiad

While the rest of the academic area is silent at 2:45 on Tuesdays, there’s one room where peals of laughter and conversation escape into the hallway: Room 118, also known as the Science Olympiad meeting room. The Science Olympiad team is a new addition to the Kennedy Catholic community. Boasting over 15 members, the Science Olympiad team is the first of its kind, bringing science, mathematics, and competition to an entire new level.

But what is Science Olympiad? The easiest way to describe the purpose of the club would be to compare it to practicing for a colossal academic track meet. Comprised of more than 23 “events,” the Science Olympiad program culminates in a regional competition where a team from every school brings their most talented students to compete. The team with the most wins in each event advances to the state level, and then the school who wins the state competition qualifies to compete at the national tournament. From building helicopters to exploring the complications of human physiology, the Science Olympiad team aimed to grasp science concepts that were well beyond the regents curriculum.

Kennedy Catholic Students At The Science Olympiad

Before Science Olympiad competed at Princeton University and Byram Hills, it first existed as only an idea in our minds. We knew that implementing a Science Olympiad at Kennedy would allow many science-directed students like us to enjoy working with science outside of the classroom. We also knew that the Kennedy science department would be receptive to a science-based club due to its dedication towards science and technology. However, we also had many challenges that we had to overcome in order to implement a fully functioning Science Olympiad team from scratch.

Our first challenge was finding a mentor that would be willing to stay after school and monitor our meetings.With her passion for teaching and science, Mrs. Ioannou willingly dedicated hours upon hours to the Science Olympiad club. From attending meetings to driving all the way to Princeton University at 6 A.M. on a Saturday, Mrs. Ioannou is the reason the Science Olympiad club was able to strive. As a new addition to the Kennedy family, Mr. Reyes jumped in on the idea of belonging to a spirited community enthusiastic about the STEM field. Mr. Reyes is one of our biggest supporters, coming to every meeting and event, and sharing his keenness for science with us. Without Mrs. Ioannou and Mr. Reyes, there would be no Science Olympiad club.

Our second challenge was finding funding for the team. Father Vaillancourt was willing to fund our initial expenditures. Then, the onus lay on us to host multiple bake sales throughout the year to raise money for kits and other building supplies. Our team was able to fund itself completely thanks to the participation of the school community.

After almost six months of practice, our team was eager to take off. We first took a road-trip down to Princeton. While most of the college students were sleeping in on a Saturday morning, high school students travelled from all over the east coast to participate in a competition with their peers. Aside from members of our team being able to build video games from scratch and estimate how many piano tuners there were in New York City, our team was able to learn from members of other schools. The alacrity of other teams to provide help to our novice group was astounding. A week later, our team went to Byram Hills. While only a regional tournament, the competition remained fierce. Surprisingly, we were able to rank in second place out of forty teams in an event. Though we did not advance to the state competition, we ranked decently as a school which only recently started a Science Olympiad team. We hope that our contribution serves as a backbone for future years, and will encourage other students delve into the STEM field and fuel their passions for science.