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posted: Tue, Jan 19th, 2016

Halle Greenbaum and Nicole Jeska hold their glider

Science Olympiad team earns invitation to state tournament

Mount Olive Middle School’s STEM team is moving onto the state finals in the Science Olympiad. The team recently competed in the regional tournament held at Union County College and finished 7th of 22 schools – a placing that earned the team an invitation to the state tournament in March.

Eight MOMS students scored sixth or higher in the regional competition and were awarded medals for their achievements.

Maneera Duddu and Stacey Tang had the highest placing, finishing second in Picture This, a game best described as Pictionary with scientific terms. The pair prepared by learning 1000s of different words and practicing how to draw them. One of the toughest terms in the competition which they correctly guessed: ecosystem.

Ryan Nguyen and Sujay Shankar took third place for Bio Process Lab. This category tested the students’ knowledge of laboratory procedures in a variety of ways. They had to identify lab equipment, interpret graphs, and analyze a mystery liquid and make conclusions.

“We make a good team,” said Sujay. “I know a lot of science and Ryan knows a lot about math. And we’re both really good at doing labs.”

Halle Greenbaum and Nicole Jeska took 4th place in Elastic Launched Glider. In this competition, students were judged based on the length of time that the custom gliders they had pre-built in school stayed aloft. Halle and Nicole crafted their glider out of balsa wood in the prep room of the STEM lab. The most difficult part in the process was sanding the thickness of the wings and the team went through about 15 wings before coming up with their finished product.

“At one point we were covered in glue and sawdust,” said Nicole. Ryan Nguyen served as Obi-Wan for the glider project. He and Andres Cruz took first place in the same competition last year.

Placing in 5th were Nikhil Nandikanti and Jake Cerasoli for Can’t Judge a Powder, which tested their ability to test, observe, record data, and make conclusions about a powdery substance.

Teacher Beth Cohen coaches the school’s STEM team.

Maneera Duddu and Stacey Tang took home a second place award in the regional competition

Changing the world

A bit of Mount Olive was recently on display in Paris at the United Nations Climate Change Conference thanks to the efforts of Ananya Singh.

The MOMS eighth-grader organized a school-wide campaign to create ribbons for the Climate Ribbon tree, a massive annual art project. Working with a small group of concerned friends, Ananya encouraged 160 fellow MOMS students to participate in the initiative and have their voices heard. The students wrote their names on two-foot-long strips of fabric and listed things they were afraid to lose as a result of climate change.

In Paris, the names and messages on all the hundreds of ribbons that formed the Climate Ribbon tree were read aloud during a special ceremony.

"This is important to me because it's our planet and we need to take care of it,” said Ananya. “We're the first generation to truly feel the effects happening and we have to step up and take responsibility.”

Because of her efforts on the ribbon campaign, Ananya was honored as the Volunteer in the Spotlight for the month of November by the Greenpeace National Activist Network.

Ananya attended a week-long summer camp for young activists last year and learned valuable leadership skills and ways to tap into existing resources to create awareness. Making good use of that training, she recently started YUMAI (Youth United Making An Impact) – a group for middle-schoolers who want to learn about important issues plaguing the world and what can be done to address them.

“I think Ananya’s going to change the world,” said Gina Heineman, science teacher and student council co-adviser. “She’s very hardworking, dependable, and has such a passion for helping others.”

Also participating in the climate ribbon project were Victoria Land, Samantha Lengyel, Sydney Mullin, Stacey Tang, Jessica Tang, Victoria Tang, Shreya Segu, Olivia Trezza, and Rhia Kumar.

You can learn more about YUMAI by going to www.yumai.weebly.com. The group’s next meeting is scheduled for February 9 at the Mount Olive Public Library, beginning at 7 p.m.

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