Bristol Warren's best-in-show performance in April at the state competition has earned them their first-ever appearance at the massive Nationals Tournament on May 19-20.
If you want to excel in any team-oriented activity, the first and perhaps most crucial step is to have a coach like Kerri Krawczyk.
The experienced Science Olympiad leader at Kickemuit Middle School recently led her team to a spot in the 39th Science Olympiad National Tournament, which will take place at Wichita State University on May 19 and 20. It is the school’s first trip to the big dance since the team was created in 2016.
“It’s really big,” said Krawczyk, who has been coaching the KMS team since it first began and coached in Providence for many years prior to joining KMS. “There’s 60 middle school teams and about the same of high school, so over 120 teams will be there.”
The team realized early success when it started at KMS, finishing second in the state behind Barrington in 2018 and then finished third in 2019. Then COVID hit and forced the team into dormancy for 2020, 2021 and 2022, when the events were cancelled or only held virtually. This year, the team received a grant from the Bristol Warren Educational Foundation (BWEF) to fund a trip to the state competition. That support, along with it being held in-person again, convinced Krawczyk to start the team up again.
“There’s something like 27 different events and they can choose events they’re interested in,” Krawczyk said. Events can be based on engineering and building something, analyzing data, or performing a lab event for whatever topic they’ve chosen.
At the state competition, held at Rhode Island College on April 22, the 19 participating KMS students won 11 medals, including five golds and five silvers, along with one bronze and a handful of fourth place finishes. They prepared for the state event throughout the year during weekly (or even daily) practices, which prepared them for a trip to Harvard University for an invitational event that included teams from all over the country. The team wound up with nine Top 5 finishers at the event.
“We’re becoming a travel science team,” Krawczyk said with a laugh. “We have a serious team at KMS. I’ve realized you have to go to invitationals to get better.”
Throughout her time coaching the team, Krawczyk has instilled an environment for the team that simultaneously promotes inclusion as well as a winning spirit. She takes strides to ensure that the students have fun with their chosen activities while also being careful to optimize their practice sessions and competitions so they achieve a high level of success.
“Everyone is welcome and everybody is a part of the team,” she said. “The idea is to have it be challenging and get the kids to try multiple things and not just do the same thing all year long. We try to have them build, study, and do a lab event…If you do well, the kids want to keep coming back.”
Help send ‘em to Kansas
Between now and the nationals competition, Krawczyk and the Olympiad team is trying to earn financial support to send students and family members to Kansas. Krawczyk estimated it will cost around $30,000 in total.
The BWEF has launched a fundraising campaign to help benefit the team, pledging 50% of the profits from ticket sales for its annual Bee-cathalon event (being held on May 13) between now and May 12 to be donated to the team. Additionally, 10% of total profits from the fundraiser will be donated to the team, which includes an autographed New England Patriots football that will be featured as a silent auction item (100% of the proceeds of which will go towards the KMS Science Olympiad team).
You can click here to purchase tickets for the Bee-cathalon and help the KMS Science Olympiad team get to the national tournament.
Alternativelty, you can donate directly to the team by mailing a check to Meredith DePalma at 525 Child St., Warren RI, 02885.