Science Olympiad heads to state

Alexa Jurado, Staff Writer

Cary-Grove’s Science Olympiad team is gearing up for state after taking third place at regionals.

Science Olympiad is all about — you guessed it — science. But what makes it most interesting for the students participating in it is that it isn’t just familiar science topics. It also includes specific sciences that students don’t often learn in school. Competitions include various events, which can be in the form of a test or hands-on activity.

“Some of us take tests on different categories or subjects. I do Forensics and Dynamic Earth, which is like earth science, Hydrogeology, and Rocks and Minerals,” said captain Emily Havard. “It’s cool because you can look into your interests instead of whatever classes are being offered.”

The olympians always compete in teams of two, even for written tests, but the bar is still high for success.

“Some of [the tests] you get cheat sheets for, and some of them you go in with a binder, and some of them you’re blind — you walk in and you just gotta do it,” junior Jamie Walker said.

Some of the other events are hands-on and include building structures, such as towers.

“They make it out of balsa wood and then whoever has the most efficient tower, wins,” said Havard, “which is kind of cool. There’s also hovercrafts and robot arms in the building events that people compete in. There’s wind power, where they try to make a good wind turbine.”

“It’s fun. It’s a lot of people who like the same things as you, and you kind of just get to do what you do best, which is take tests, I guess,” said Walker with a laugh. “It doesn’t sound like fun, but it is, it’s a lot of fun.”

When asked what their favorite part of the club was, many said that it was the community and environment around them that made them enjoy it the most.

“Hanging out with your fellow science nerds every Saturday morning,” said Havard.

“To be with fellow learners,” said junior James Ruth.

“I definitely wouldn’t have made friends with any of the people in here if I wasn’t in Science Olympiad,” said sophomore Sara Pokorny.

“That we are able to have fun and expand our experience in science,” said junior Parth Patel. “It’s cool that there’s a club where you can learn about science if you really enjoy it, specific to what you want, since there’s so many different events, and you have fun while doing it, and you make a lot of friends.”

The team prepares for competitions, and especially regionals, by practicing, testing, learning, and most of all, simply making sure they have all their ducks in a row.

“For regionals we met a lot more often and we had to prep for our events, and we had test runs,” said Walker. “I know for Towers, I built three or four towers before regionals, more than that, actually, and then we had to test them all in here. I know experimental design was in here a couple of times testing that out.”

“For the testing events, it’s just making sure you know your stuff, and making sure your binders and cheat sheets are all ready to go,” said Havard.

“Make sure the hovercraft works!” remarked Patel.

“There’s a lot of different events so the kids in Science Olympiad are quite independent when it comes to learning their stuff,” said sponsor and chemistry teacher Mr. Jenkins. “There’s kids all over the place doing things.”

Although preparation for regionals is the same as preparing for regular competitions, the pressure if definitely higher, as are the stakes.

“There are less teams at regionals,” said Havard. “Usually at a competition there are 35 to 40 teams, and at regionals there were 13 Varsity teams.”

“It’s a lot more stressful I guess,” said Patel, “because it qualifies us for state.”

The team won third place at the regional competition, but also the spirit award. The team was surprised by that because weren’t aware of its existence until they won it.

“We were not expecting that at all,” said Havard. “We were just being our normal selves.”

The team was also quite enthusiastic that they beat Stevenson High School in several events, including Chemistry Lab, Optics, Electric Vehicle, and Game On.

For the state competition, the 25 members of the team continue to work hard and prepare for their individual events as diligently as ever. Even more so, perhaps, as they compete against even better teams. The team isn’t confident in placing this time around, but are optimistic in their individual events, as well as the experiences they will have.

“We compete as a team, but they can take home some medals,” said Jenkins.

“I expect to have lots of fun,” said Havard, as Walker chimed in that she’s “really excited for it.”

The state competition is the weekend of prom, so while many are taking pictures and dancing the night away, the Science Olympiad team will be making their way to the state competition. As you put on your formal wear and smile for the camera, remember to wish them luck!