For Sampoorna Ravikanth, it all started in the second grade. And her interest in science has only increased since then – to the point where she is planning on making it her life’s work.
So, what happened in second grade?
“I joined the Washtenaw Elementary Science Olympiad when I was at Lawton and since then I have participated in Science Olympiad every year through Slauson Middle school and now at Pioneer High School,” she said.
The seed was planted in the soil and that flower of interest, intrigue and discovery bloomed quickly and continues to grow to this day.
“I really enjoy the wide range of topics covered by Science Olympiad and it helps you realize that there are many things available to learn in science,” says the hard-working junior. “I’ve also had some great teachers from elementary school through high school who have shown me many cool opportunities that science has to offer.”
So let’s break it down, scientifically in this case. What has been the winning formula that created this incredible interest in science? Ravikanth offers the results of her findings:
- The most important thing I have learned is to give back to the community full of awesome parents and coaches who spent numerous hours coaching us and making us lifelong learners;
- Work ethic – Science Olympiad teaches you how to be self-motivated and get better at self-studying. It teaches you to be disciplined by being consistent with your preparation over time and that any learning is a marathon and not a sprint. Most of us spend four to six hours a week from early October until April training, studying, and preparing for our various Scioly competitions;
- Friends – Through this club I have met some really intelligent peers and made some great friends;
- Teamwork – We have so many smart and aspiring individuals on our team that it is extremely competitive for students to make it on to our A team which has a limit of 15 students to the State competition. Many of us have been working together in the Science Olympiad setting since the sixth grade at Slauson. A big component of Science Olympiad is teamwork and being able to depend on one another to do their part;
- Knowledge – I have been exposed to many scientific topics that have helped me both in and outside of school. It always feels great to have all your hard work validated with a win at the competitions:
- Management – It has helped me understand the importance of good strategy, planning and communication skills for a successful team. Watching the efforts of our head coaches over the years has helped us organize and plan the events this year without the involvement of parents.
It all adds up to an “awesome and rewarding” experience.
Ravikanth, the daughter of Haripriya Mahadevan and Ravikanth Vedantham, is the vice president and co-captain for the Pioneer Science Olympiad team. Her role is to manage the team’s administrative work, handle communications and coach several events.
The Pioneers took first place at the Region 9 Regional Tournament on March 17 at Adrian College. The Pioneer team, coached by science teacher Jenni Wilkening, is heading to the 2018 State Tournament in Michigan on Saturday, April 28 at Michigan State University.
Even at a young age, Ravikanth is giving back.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being able to coach elementary and middle school Olympians on the events that I once competed in,” she says. “I am happy that I can contribute to motivating elementary kids to explore science by coaching for a team that I once used to be a part of.”
Ravikanth, whose favorite topics are related to earth sciences, astronomy and biology, is involved in several other groups and clubs at Pioneer. She is the event head for the Rocks and Minerals and Herpetology events at the school; is an active board member of Student Council; is a junior co-chair of Pioneer’s Philanthropy Committee: and is a member of the National Honor Society.
Ravikanth, along with fellow Pioneer student Katie Wolber, formed the Sustainability Coalition Club at Pioneer. The idea for the Sustainability Coalition Club, which now is up to 50 members, came from the school’s Geophysical Sciences and AP Environmental Science teacher, Mr. Quandt. The plan was to have several different ongoing projects at the school related to sustainability.
“I’m excited to say that this month on April 20 we will be hosting Pioneer’s very first Earth Day event to create further awareness about the environment and sustainability to elementary schoolers in a fun and interactive way,” Ravikanth said.
Ravikanth also enjoys music and plays flute in the Pioneer bands as well as piano at home. “I have also been learning the South Indian classical music in the vocal tradition from an early age,” she says.
Her future will definitely include college. And it will definitely include science. But she’s still working on the formula to discover her long-term plans.