EASTstroudsburg13 wrote:Repeat after me:
Science Olympiad is a team competition.
THIS! Exactly this.
As a coach, we make sure we discuss this with our students each year. After a few years on the team, everyone has at least one rotten egg score. But we're a team. The medals might go on an individual's neck, but in reality, they're the TEAM'S medals. And the final ranking is our TEAM's ranking. We discourage comments such as "Well if Tom and Bob had just studied Amphibians a little more and not goofed off..." or "They didn't work very hard on that bridge." If you've not had a poor score yet, stick with the team a couple of years, and you will. It happens. If you forgive the event pair that brought home a less than stellar score and treat them like valuable team members (and ALL our team members, regardless of age, years on the team, scientific ability, etc. are valuable) then you can count on them treating you as valuable when you don't do well next year on an event or two.
Our first year, at Regionals, our Wright Stuff team earned gold with a beautiful airplane that they poured many hours into. We qualified for state and we had high hopes for this disciplined, motivated and talented pair. Well, their plane broke right before competition. Snap. They tried to fly it and it basically was a drop. Oh that hurt to watch these boys who got 1st six weeks before get last. And I cringed as I anticipated the possible fallout from the team members. Well, as far as I know, the team members kindly either never said anything about it or they offered appropriate words of sympathy. And perhaps that was the first time I really saw our team as not only good (3rd in Regionals, 3rd in state with 12 young kids our first year), but as excellent. And, as a coach, I value that attitude over rankings and medals. In life, attitude > aptitude. Lots of adults don't get that principle. If that's all that our SO kids learn, we succeeded.
And, thankfully, for the most part, this is the SO culture I've observed (and that's why, despite the long hours and no pay, I keep coming back). You've all seen it, a kid's bridge breaks early, a car stops off target, the egg breaks. And, while the crowd (both students and adults -- from various teams) won't "go crazy" like they do for a near-perfect performance, they kindly clap to honor the effort that these two students put into their event. So, the talk we have with our team must be going on in most other teams...
When we do our info meetings for prospective members, we emphasize that we're a team. If a child would rather work independently, there's this really nice science fair in town...