Ocean Air Elementary School shines at Science Olympiad

The Ocean Air Science Olympiad Team
The Ocean Air Science Olympiad Team

By Haritha Doppalapudi

The youngest elementary school of Del Mar Union School District achieved yet another milestone. Ocean Air kids participated in the prestigious San Diego Regional Science Olympiad held in Rancho Bernardo High School on Feb. 2 for the first time and won medals and ribbons in nine events. About 1,400 students, mostly middle schoolers, from all over San Diego County participated in this competition.

Stacie Waters, the school science teacher, worked tirelessly the past few months getting the Ocean Air teams ready for the competition. She encouraged and personally trained numerous teams. Some parents volunteered as well to coach individual events. Children enthusiastically participated in the training sessions, learned science, built models and conducted scientific experiments.

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Stacie Waters with Metric Masterers, Ayush Desai (6th grade) and Dhathry Doppalapudi (5th grade).

Being first-time participants in Science Olympiad and the expected intense competition from middle schools, the Ocean Air Elementary students weren’t expecting to win any medals.  The kids enjoyed the competition day at Rancho Bernardo High School as if it was a picnic with their friends. The most exciting part of the completion was undoubtedly the award ceremony in the gymnasium. Hundreds of middle schoolers were loudly cheering for their schools, some running around with their banners, some of the schools were stomping “We will, we will rock you..”, creating a sports championship-like atmosphere. Ocean Air students entered the hall not sure what to make of all the noise and quietly settled down on the floor. A few moments later, Liz Jablecki, the San Diego regional director of the event started announcing the winners of the 23 events. Ocean Air students could not believe their ears when they heard their name called out for Rotor Egg Drop for 18th place. It took them a good few seconds before they started screaming with excitement! But, little did they know it was just the beginning of their fantastic performance. They continued to collect prizes in multiple events including 2nd place by Ayush and Shrey Sambhwani in Shock Value. They came in that morning just to participate and experience the largest middle school event in the country. “We did not think we’d have a standing chance, but this had been such a rewarding experience.  Just coming here, working as team and competing against all different schools is a fantastic feeling. Our ribbons and awards have inspired us to continue competing in these competitions,” said Dhathry Doppalapudi, an Ocean Air 5th grade student. She and Ayush Desai were placed 18th in Metric Mastery.  “It was a great learning experience and lots of fun at the same time”, said Ayush.  “Looking at the teams full of 7th and 8th graders at the event room was a little intimidating but we wanted to do our best,” said Soumika Guduru. “I loved everything about the event day and awards ceremony,” Shreya Gopala chimed in. They were the 7th prize winners for Disease Detectives.

Elated by the school’s performance, Stacie Waters beamed ear to ear.  She said, “Better than any wins in this experience was the personal growth and team building that we gained through this stretch and competition. With our first year, our hard work did not get utilized to its potential.” She is already geared up for next year.  Stacie Waters and Holly Jing, a parent coach doubled as the event coordinators as well.

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