Lander College for Men Hosts 200 Students for Yeshiva Science Olympiad
New York, N.Y. – Approximately 200 students from 13 Jewish high schools around the Tri-State area participated in the annual Jewish Education Project-Lander College Yeshiva Science Olympiad. The team from Torah Academy of Bergen County won first place in the competition with the highest aggregate score in 12 events, with Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy (SAR), Ramaz and North Shore Hebrew Academy rounding out the top four spots.
Fifteen students from grades 9 through 12 from each of the participating schools competed in at least one event, which tested various aspects of biology, chemistry, earth science and physics, as well as applications of engineering and technology. Schools were required to send at least two faculty coaches to the Olympiad to supervise students and serve as judges.
“It is imperative that we as an Orthodox community nourish the minds and vast potential of our most gifted students,” said Dr. Moshe Sokol, dean of the Lander College for Men (LCM) in Kew Gardens Hills where the Olympiad took place. “One of these young men or women may change the world with their scientific insight.”
Some events required students to prepare projects in the weeks leading up to the competition. For example, one of the challenges, the “Gravity Vehicle,” called for teams to build a small vehicle that used gravitational energy as its sole means of movement. On the day of the Olympiad, the vehicle was placed on a ramp that was to be released and travel a distance unknown to the students until the start of the event. The teams had to adjust the vehicle’s breaking mechanism so that it could reach the target point and predict, as close as they were able, how quickly it would get there.
“We are delighted to enable these students in the competition by sharing our state-of-the art laboratories, equipment and classrooms for this annual event,” said Dr. Ann E. Shinnar, an associate professor of chemistry at LCM, who coordinated the event with the Yeshiva League’s director for the Science Olympiad, Linda Padwa of Stony Brook University. “Linda said that she overheard one of the students say that the best part was being around so many other kids who are excited about science. More than awards and accolades, that’s exactly what we want students to take home from this competition.”
Other events, such as the “Circuit Lab,” consisted of a written exam with questions related to electrical circuitry, and another portion testing hands-on knowledge of the subject. The “Write It/Do It” event called for participants to work in tandem with their teammates. One of the two team members was shown an object made of wire, pipe cleaners and assorted other trinkets, and then was required to write instructions on how to build the object from scratch. Without the benefit of seeing the object or speaking with his or her partner, a second teammate was then provided with the instructions—as well as raw materials—and told to reconstruct the original.
Subjects such as earth science, biology, environmental science and others were tested at the Olympiad, as well.
Although the national and regional organizations usually hold their Science Olympiads on a Saturday, LCM holds a nationally sanctioned competition on a Sunday to allow Sabbath-observing students to participate. LCM provides the space, custodial staff, faculty and student volunteers to assist with the different events. This was the third year that LCM has collaborated with the Jewish Education Project to host the Olympiad.