Going for the gold at Science Olympics

“At Lauralton, we believe in empowering women for life,” says President Antoinette (Toni) Iadarola, Ph.D. “We encourage students to strive for excellence in all that they do. The recent summer Olympics in London remind us that even the highest goals are attainable.” This fall, teams of middle school girls from Fairfield and New Haven Counties will have the opportunity to go for the Olympic gold. However, instead of winning medals in beach volley ball and synchronized swimming, they will be competing in fun, problem solving science projects at Lauralton Hall’s Science Olympics which will be held on Saturday, September 22.

Lauralton Hall science teacher Dr. Susan Cavar feels the Science Olympics are extremely valuable for middle grade girls. “Studies show that girls have negative attitudes towards math and science,” said Dr. Cavar. “This translates into reduced involvement in these fields in high school, college and career choice. Although performing better than middle school boys, they participate less, have high levels of anxiety, and little confidence in their abilities. The Science Olympics is the perfect opportunity for girls to shine, increase their confidence, and be around others that share their love of science.”

With the help of Lauralton Hall faculty and students, participants will work together in teams on challenging activities such as:

  • Experimenting with resistance and friction to change car crash situations
  • Determining the amount of sugar in gum
  • Conducting a genetic analysis
  • Conducting a surface tension experiment in which they attempt to see how much water can be dropped onto a penny

One of the highlights of the Science Olympics will be the “magical physics” show presented by Bob Erickson from Demos-R-Us. Erickson, a retired physics professor from the University of Connecticut, combined the excitement of science with clear and simple explanations of the underlying concepts.

“I loved helping out with the Science Olympics,” says one Lauralton student volunteer. “At first the project looked like it would be super tough to solve, but we figured it out as a team and we all felt so proud when it worked! I think the girls had a lot of fun and realized how ‘cool’ science can be.”

Historically, girls have been underrepresented in science and engineering. Offering the Science Olympics is one of the many ways that Lauralton Hall encourages young women to get “psyched about science”. The school also has the distinction of introducing students to physics in their freshman year. According to Science Department Chairperson Theresa Napolitano, “Offering physics during their freshman year not only gives students a solid foundation in science, helping them develop a strong, lasting interest, it also gives them confidence. A phenomenal number of Lauralton Hall alums pursue science in college and go on to pursue careers as scientists, engineers, and bio engineers.”

Due to the popularity of the Science Olympics, slots for competing teams for fall 2012 have all been filled.  


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