ORLANDO | Sixteen students from St. John Vianney Catholic School competed in the recent Curtis Rising Stars Science Competition at the Orlando Science Center, Feb. 15. The five teams accepted challenges to solve problems presented the day of the competition. Using the engineering design process, they worked to design a trampoline, an aqueduct, a tower to the moon and more. Each team completed two of three challenges.
Led by GEAR teacher Susie Philpot, the five teams did their best, with one fourth-grade team taking first place in their category. GEAR is a gifted enrichment program stressing academic rigor. This is the second year that students from St. John Vianney attended. “I feel it is important for students to participate in this science competition because it stresses working cooperatively as a team and using problem solving skills to develop solutions,” said Philpot. “It is important to be able to work together in a positive way to solve challenges.”
Including an integral part of the school’s mission to ground students in spiritual formation, as well as academic excellence, the experience also provided insight for the spiritual journey. “Different strategies might not work, so you try a new method,” noted Gizelle. “This could be how you spread God’s Word,” added Maria. Both fourth grade competitors, along with teammate Emma, took first place for “Best in Fair”.
Alejandro, a fifth-grader who helped design the aqueduct, quickly recognized how this work connects to Catholic social teaching. “The aqueduct we built could bring water to people who don’t have water,” he said. “This is helping people who are poor.”
As the students strived to meet certain criteria while keeping within set supply and time constraints, they learned about how to work as a team, about themselves, and about the infinite possibilities available when they are open to exploration.
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic March 4, 2020