Harness the parent power in your school! Parents with professional backgrounds in the sciences are an underutilized resource in most PTAs. If the owner of the local art supply store makes a great committee chair for the art program, why not solicit an astronomer or physicist (or someone who just loves science!) to head up a science committee? A motivated parent who just happens to be a molecular biologist can be a tremendous asset to a PTA science program. Working parents who normally cannot volunteer during the school day can take advantage of Fun Night events, which are typically held in the evenings.
If you are a PTA president or committee member, or simply an interested parent hoping to get a Science Olympiad program in place at your school, it's often best to start with your principal or building science supervisor. If you get approval to start an ESO, the first thing you'll need is a strong committee and a staff liaison. (and an Elementary Science Olympiad Manual!) Having someone who knows the curriculum and the building will help you pick the right events to align with what's already going on in the classroom! They can also be the point of contact with the other teachers, asking to use rooms, getting extra tables in the gym, and housing all your supplies for your event! Once you have a strong group, you'll need to petition your PTA for a line item to fund the event, usually no more than $2 or $3 per child. In addition to regular PTA meetings, your Science Olympiad committee should plan to meet to select the events, assign tasks and make to-do and supply lists.
Aligned to a typical school calendar, here's a general recipe to follow for PTA success:
- Use the PTA Back-to-School Coffee or Open House to allow interested parents to pick up information and sign up to help at the event later in the school year. Show the Elementary Science Olympiad DVD to get everyone fired up!
- Finalize choice of events to run and assign events to team Supervisors
- Solicit help from outside experts
- Set the date and budget for the event
- Use school newsletter to ask for parent volunteers
- Collect supplies and assemble materials for event
- Assign events to rooms; get custodial approval
- Communicate with parents about registration procedures if necessary
- Choose events
- Order ribbons or medals
- Ask local TV stations and newspapers to cover your Science Olympiad event
- Finalize events and schedules
- Make signs, handouts, certificates and banners
March or April
- Hold event and be sure to invite district administrators
Check out the article in PTA Magazine, Experiment with Science in your PTA.