Two groups of students from Charlottes Piedmont IB and Jay M. Robinson middle schools wont be in town for this weeks end-of-grade state tests, but their teachers probably wont mind.
The two schools will send teams of students to the Science Olympiad National Tournament, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Piedmont and Jay M. Robinson qualified by pulling off what Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials think might be an unprecedented middle school 1-2 finish in the state tournament on April 28.
The top two finishers in the state event qualify for the Nationals, and Piedmont IBs team took first place with 204 overall points. Jay M. Robinson was second with 216 in a competition where the lowest overall total wins.
Also finishing in the top 10 at the middle school level were J.M. Alexander Middle (fourth) and Providence Day (sixth).
CMS did not get a Nationals qualifier in the high-school division, but three Mecklenburg schools were in the top 10 Providence Day (sixth), Ardrey Kell (seventh), and Myers Park (eighth).
Piedmont IB Middle Principal Dee Gardner says shes thrilled with their schools state championship.
A lot of the other top teams have heavy involvement from teachers and parents as coaches, Gardner said. For us, it was mostly the teachers. They worked countless extra hours to prepare our students, and Im so proud of them teachers and students.
Weve never qualified for the Nationals before. In this competition, our students have to study, research and then do problem-solving. It tests all areas of learning.
Seventh-grade science teacher Melanie Bell led Piedmont IBs effort.
Reaching the Nationals is old hat for Jay M. Robinson Middle, where Kathleen Fox is principal. The school won the middle school state championship four straight years, from 2007 to 2010, and has been at the Nationals at least five times in the past 10 years.
Jay M. Robinson has finished among the top 20 teams at the nationals several times during their successful run.
Wayne Fisher, CMS science specialist, said he cant recall CMS faring as well in the middle school competition.
I believe the excellent performance by our middle school teams ... is strong evidence for the way teachers and schools have taken ownership to excite students about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), Fisher said.