Centennial Hall was alive with the sound of science Friday morning (Sept. 27) as the eighth annual BIOlympics wrapped up National Biotechnology Week in London.
The event was one of 50 held across Canada during the week.
Hosted by TechAlliance and its partners, it pitted 20 teams of grade 7 and 8 students head-to-head in 10 different science-based challenges.
A different TechAlliance member or partner, such as Western University and Let’s Talk Science, managed each station.
Students had to compete in a trivia challenge, learn how to make super-stretchable slime, play Tetris with controllers made of real fruits and vegetables, re-assemble a skeleton, build Kinect structures with only verbal instructions and solve an agricultural puzzle, to name a few of the challenges.
W. Sherwood Fox Elementary School students Amy VanBeest and Sydney Morris and their teammates knocked the agricultural challenge out of the park, finishing early and with a high score.
They had to match the right crop to the right farmer from a group, each with their own needs (climate, fertilizer, land) and a problem to solve (pests, etc).
“It’s not that hard if you know what to look for,” Amy said. “It’s really fun, it’s a good way to learn about everything in science and there’s a lot of team building.”
Their favourite station turned out to be a word scramble/word find combination, elegant in its simplicity but impossible to complete unless teams worked together.
Both Amy and Sydney were surprised how much teamwork was needed to complete the challenges.
“Our teammates have known each other for a while but it was shocking when we got here how much we had to work with each other,” Sydney said.
Arthur Ford Public School teacher Steve Nixon has brought students to the BIOlympics for three years in a row.
“It’s a great learning experience with a focus on science and hands-on interactive activities where the students love interacting as a team and learning about all of the awesome science challenges they have to offer.”
According to TechAlliance CEO Marilyn Sinclair, fun is the name of the game but there’s a serious motivation behind the BIOlympics.
“This event is really about inspiring the next generation of researchers, entrepreneurs and innovators,” she said. “We want to see London become a centre for biotechnology innovation in Canada and it starts by educating and inspiring our local youth to make that future a reality.”