Young science enthusiasts from Walnut Elementary School shined at the 21st Annual Elementary Science Olympiad last weekend, with one group of students earning second place overall in the competition.
Hundreds of elementary school children from throughout the region competed in event, which is hosted by the Stanislaus County Office of Education, including 36 4th-6th graders from Walnut. The competition is so popular at the school, said team advisor Marianne Vander Veen, that two teams of 16 had to be created: Walnut Green and Walnut Gold. It was Walnut Green that earned the bronze at the Science Olympiad, but both teams found tremendous success as they took home five first place and five second place finishes in individual events.
“They are so excited. The Gold team took first place last year, so the students know how to win,” Vender Veen said. “But, they’re treated all as one big team and only split up on the day of event, so they all feel like they took home second place.”
The Green and Gold teams earned first and second place, respectively, in the anatomy challenge at the Olympiad, perfectly labeling different parts of the body and its various systems. The Green and Gold teams also both medaled in a bug-identifying event, a writing event and an architecture competition. The teams placed in six other events as well.
“There are 17 different events, and while some of the things the students learn in class, Walnut’s 40-minute elective time three days a week is more time that they can spend practicing for different events,” Vander Veen said.
All 36 students on the Walnut teams – 16 on each – are a part of the elementary school’s Discovery Magnet program, which place an emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
“The kids studied really hard and put in a lot of effort,” Vander Veen said. “I don’t think the magnet program gave them an advantage – I just think the kids worked really hard to earn the spot.”
In total, Walnut placed in 10 of the 17 events. Julien Elementary School also placed ninth overall in the competition, earning first place in the astronomy competition, second place in the crime busters event and fourth place in the can race.