Discovering Her Potential

Science Olympiad is a national organization that  for the past 30 years has been promoting interest in various fields of science through several competitions. LB’s own Science Olympiad team has achieved various awards since its inception. Sophomore Kira Emmons has been noted and recognized by not only the school Science Olympiad team, but also by the Virginia Science Olympiad organization.


“Both of my siblings participated in Science Olympiad in middle school,” Emmons said, “I started in sixth grade so this is my fifth year.”


In those five years, Emmons has competed in events including, thermodynamics, maglev, write it do it, experimental design, boomilever and roller coaster. Within competitions, there are building, knowledge and process events. Building events is where a team builds a specific contraption that is then presented to judges. Knowledge events include a test, while process events test a specific lab skill.


“For many events, you study for a test,” Emmons said. “Some are a building event that you show in front of a judge, while some is just showing a lab skill.”


Science Olympiad is a competitive event with regional, state, national and sometimes even invitational tournaments where teams compete against each other. At each competition, only schools with the highest results move on to the next level meaning that students have to spend time and effort in order to place. On the flip side, the competition introduces its participants to new specialized fields of science that are not taught in a classroom

“It’s a great opportunity to make friends with similar interests,” Emmons said, “It doesn’t require prior knowledge in science or engineering, and you learn a lot about different fields of science.”


In the course of her five years, Emmons has won five first place medals, eight second place medals, seven third place medals, five fourth place medals, four fifth place medals and one sixth place medal for a total of 30 medals in 12 competitions. In addition to competing, Emmons has been involved with the judging side of Science Olympiad.


“Last year, I was the event supervisor at two of the regional competitions as well as at the elementary school competition for the event Rotor Egg Drop,” Emmons said.


Rotor Egg Drop is a Division B event (for middle school students) where a student-built helicopter rotor device is built and is then used to drop an egg during the competition.


Emmons has also judged events and written tests for various competitions.


“I have also been asked by the Virginia Science Olympiad state board of directors to work at the engineering event open house,” Emmons said, “This is a series of presentations given by the event supervisors geared toward schools new to Science Olympiad to help them better understand some of the events.”


Due to a lack of event supervisors, the Virginia Science Olympiad asked Emmons to give a Boomilever and Thermodynamics event presentations due to her extensive knowledge of these events.


“After that, I started volunteering at SO tournaments like taping out spaces on the floor and timing the fall of a rotor down the height of a stairwell,” Emmons said, “Gradually I moved into administering and grading tests that someone else had written, and now I write the tests too.”


As for her future, Emmons is leading towards a career in mechanical engineering.


“Science Olympiad was one of the first glimpses that I love building things,” Emmons said, “because [it] gives students the chance to study STEM across a broader range of subject matter and more in-depth than school classes will ever give, many students do discover a passion for a certain area of STEM they might not ever get to study otherwise.”


Her participation in this organization has impacted her in many ways by opening her mind to think about the way things work.

“Science Olympiad is an opportunity for me to learn new things so that maybe one day I can discover the undiscovered,” she said.