Kids growing up in the 90s can thank Jurassic Park for a first glimpse into the field of paleontology, albeit an unrealistic one. For Stephanie Sang, it was Science Olympiad.
Stephanie, a PhD candidate from the University of Chicago, became enamored with scientific discovery after discovering Science Olympiad.
Her doctoral dissertation is in paleontology and evolutionary biology, but her interest stems from a Science Olympiad competition called “Fossils.” All her current pursuits, including numerous K-12 outreach programs in Chicago’s public schools which she runs, can be traced back to that one competition. It changed her life.
“I was very set in thinking ‘I like biology, so I guess I’m going to be a doctor.’ I didn’t know there were other options until competing in the event,” she said. “It made me realize my love for biology is more accurately captured in my fascination for how the shape and form of organisms have been transformed over deep time.”
What she learned led to a volunteer gig at her local natural history museum, an experience which solidified her decision to pursue paleontology.
Today, in addition to her studies and volunteer work, Stephanie helps lead a group of fellow Science Olympiad alumni to promote the program which influenced her so much, focusing on underserved schools in Chicago while increasing minority and female student participants.
Mentorship is a powerful thing. It exposes young people to new ideas and avenues in life that might otherwise go unnoticed. Over the course of college life, Stephanie Sang has helped to promote Science Olympiad and hands-on learning, Stephanie and her team are an inspiration to so many of the young people who participate.
What Science Olympiad does is give kids a chance to move beyond one-dimensional learning and state-mandated exams. Participation in Science Olympiad fosters authentic learning, teamwork and builds relationships. These opportunities change lives.
Great things happen when kids experience the tools and resources offered by Science Olympiad. People like Stephanie Sang are exactly why Double Good partnered with Science Olympiad to help fund participating teams.
Her work is important. It creates opportunities for students just like her — kids who were just waiting to learn the thing that made them want to keep learning more.
A grant from the Double Good Kids Foundation is helping to create even more opportunity through Elementary Science Olympiad For All, an adaptation of the program that includes kids with disabilities.
You can get involved and learn more here.