At Science Olympiad tournaments, the lessons of science textbooks are brought to life in hands-on, interactive, inquiry-based challenges typically using household items — and a heavy dose of inventiveness and problem-solving. Events draw on the various disciplines of biology, earth science, environmental science, chemistry, physics, engineering and technology.
The DA Upper School Science Olympiad team competes each year in a regional tournament, where the Cavs typically place within the top 5 of 20 teams, a finish that earns the team a berth to compete with the top teams in North Carolina in the state tournament. The DA team also typically competes in an invitational tournament each season; recent years have taken the team to national invitationals at Cornell University, Duke University and in Fairfax, Virginia.
Science Olympians typically participate in multiple events, like "Ping Pong Parachute" — in which students design bottle rockets that launch ping pong balls, and then compete to see which balls stay aloft for the longest period of time — or "Mission Possible" — in which teams design and build a Rube Goldberg-type device, with points earned for energy transfers along the path.
"Science Olympiad was an integral part of my high school experience. Beyond building skills and scientific understandings outside the classroom with cool and exciting Olympiad events, I remember having so much fun — spending time with friends and enjoying being part of a scientific community."
Caroline Wechsler '15, Harvard History of Science and Molecular Biology Student
Each spring since 2007, the Upper School Science Olympiad team has hosted "Science Fun Day" for Durham Academy first-graders. The younger and older students alike look forward to this tradition, where "little kids" get hands-on chemistry, biology and physics lessons from the "big kids" on the Upper School campus.