EEB graduate students Cindy Bick, Susanna Campbell and Jon Massey coached area students for this semester’s Science Olympiad where they busted crime, sleuthed diseases, reached for the stars and more.
They volunteered weekly from late January through mid-March to help prepare the 6th-9th graders attending Washtenaw International High School and Middle School, Ypsilanti, for their events. Students discover the undiscovered during the events, which help open young minds to new ideas and inspirations. To paraphrase a student from a Science Olympiad video, “when you understand how things work, you can think of ways to make things work better.” Students learn to collaborate, problem solve, design and engineer – all the while having fun.
Massey coached the Reach for the Stars (astronomy) and Wind Power. He prepared weekly astronomy lessons and helped students build a mini wind turbine that generates electricity. Altogether, Massey coached five students. The regional competition was held March 25, 2017 at Hillsdale College. Massey’s wind turbine team won a 6th place ribbon. The astronomy team came close, but didn't place in the top eight.
“I enjoyed it!” Massey said of his experience. “I volunteered because I like working with young students who are still very curious about science and how science works. I also volunteered because I want to be more involved in my local community to help build and transfer resources and opportunities for middle and high schools that need it.”
Bick coached Invasive Species, Ecology, and Crime Busters and assisted with Food Science. Campbell coached Disease Detectives, Anatomy and Physiology, and Microbe Mission. They coached eight 7th grade students.
Bick’s team won the first place medal in Invasive Species at the Holt Invitational, held Feb. 25, 2017. Her team also placed 5th in Food Science and 6th in Ecology at regionals.
“Cindy, Susanna and Jon were stars and helped out our kids in every way,” said Sean Stidd, the head coach for the Science Olympiad who is a philosophy professor at Wayne State University. “Our volunteer coaches help young people learn science in Ypsilanti, many of whom are from minority and/or economically at-risk households. We have had great success with students in elementary and middle school and have managed to win some medals every year. This success depends heavily on our volunteer coaches from U-M working hands on with the kids and teaching them one-on-one.”
Stidd said the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology has been an especially good supporter of the team with coaches and he is deeply thankful for all the great volunteers over the years. In addition to the volunteers this semester, Stidd recalls that Leslie Decker and Amanda Meier were fantastic last year and said that Anat Belasen has helped the program every year since its inception.