Gallagher Science Olympiad team heads to nationals

Gallagher Science Olympiad team heads to nationals

The Rhode Island Science Olympiad champions at Gallagher Middle School are headed to the Nationals in Fort Collins, Colo., on May 18 and 19. (Breeze photo by Jacquelyn Moorehead)

SMITHFIELD – For the second year in a row, the Gallagher Middle School Science Olympiad team won the Rhode Island Science Olympiad competition, and will head to nationals in Colorado May 18-19.

During the state competition on April 21, the team, consisting of 19 students from grade 6 through 8, beat 25 other Rhode Island team to take home first place.

Olympiad events, which take a seven-hour day to complete, include a range of challenges, including building a battery-powered buggy, building a roller coaster, quizzes on science vocabulary on various topics such as rocks and mineral to anatomy, and more.

Kassidy Correia, grade 8, said that though the team did not win the most first prize medals, they still scored best overall. She said the team never gave up hope.

“We were all surprised to win,” she said.

The team is happy to win states and go to the national competition, but needs help raising the funds to travel. To raise money for the trip, members are busy selling tickets for a calendar raffle. The trip will cost around $700 to $800 per student.

In addition to the team, three coaches, Jeffrey Altomari, Tamar McCurdy, and Jane Ramos, teachers at Gallagher Middle School, will be leading the team during the competition.

Dawen Cheng, a 7th-grader, said he gave up other commitments to compete in the Olympiad. He builds balsa wood towers to hold the maximum amount of weight while remaining lightweight for the competition.

“I gave up tennis for this,” Cheng said. Each tower takes him around six hours to complete, and he said he spends much of his free time thinking about the towers.

“I believe I can build a great tower in the next two weeks,” he said.

Correia said the team motto is based off a rivalry Smithfield High School was unable to best.

“We beat Barrington,” she said.

Smithfield High came in second place in the high school competition, falling just behind Barrington High. Barrington came in third in the middle school competition, falling behind Kickemuit Middle School in Warren.

Many of the team members in grade 8 said they plan to continue competing on the Science Olympiad team in high school.