Science Olympiad competes virtually at annual regional competition

From left to right: Seniors Murad Khamis and Zayd Khan preparing moments prior to their competitions. “I feel that I did pretty well in my events,” Khan said. “I think that our preparation was really good because we were able to use our notes to answer most of the questions.” Photo by Beliah Christian.

Preparing for a variety of scientific based events delving into a plethora of topics, East’s Science Olympiad team competed at their annual regional competition. The competition lasted a total of five hours as the team participated in a total of 26 events on Saturday, March 12th. 

Science Olympiad is a club where students and their peers compete in partner-based events that range from chemistry and physics to engineering and anatomy and physiology. They compete against other schools and their teams at the annual regional competition, where it is determined who then advances to the state level. 

Members have prepared extensively year-round, studying with their partners to ensure their success in events that require knowledge on numerous topics in the form of objective tests. 

Senior member Izzy Uthe competed in the events Cell Biology, Environmental Chemistry, and Dynamic Planet. Cell Biology focuses on knowledge surrounding cell biology and biochemistry, while Environmental Chemistry has members answer questions on fresh water and the laws surrounding water pollution. Dynamic Planet requires teams to complete a variety of tasks surrounding Earth’s fresh waters. Uthe said she took notes and used resources like practice tests to prepare. 

“I’ve prepared by constructing note sheets for each event and studying Quizlet study sets and vocab,” Uthe said. “It’s just like studying for a test. I need to memorize a lot of information and be familiar with biological and geological terms and processes.”

Some events not only require basic testing knowledge, but also creative thinking and building skills. Teams must follow specific parameters and adhere to strict guidelines to ensure that they aren’t disqualified. 

Senior member Ben Cruz competed in the build events It’s About Time, Wright Stuff, and Write It Do It. It’s About Time requires teams to answer questions related to time and construct their own non-electrical clock device to measure various intervals. The event Wright Stuff has teams designing and constructing their own rubber plane to test its maximum capacity to fly. Finally, Write It Do It is a partner-based event where one individual creates instructions on how to build an object while the other attempts to recreate it. 

Cruz said he prepared for his building events by starting early on the construction portion to ensure that potential mishaps would reveal themselves early. He also went through a lengthy process of trial and error for his competitions. 

“I started building a clock for It’s About Time early so I would know what to fix beforehand and not moments before the competition,” Cruz said. “I also helped build the plane for Wright Stuff with my partner, which included a lot of trial and error in order to determine what needed to be fixed and not repeat mistakes.”

With all the countless hours of preparation work, members were confident in their abilities to succeed at the regional competition. 

Senior member Samay Inampudi competed in Rocks and Minerals, Cell Biology, and Ornithology. Rocks and Minerals is a testing event where participants must identify different geodes based on a variety of factors such as color or formation. Ornithology is also an objective testing event where students must pinpoint national birds based on components such as color or call. 

He said he was positive that his team would place, expressing excitement for the competition. 

“I am 100% confident, I know me [and my partners] are going to place. I know that we’re going to go above and beyond,” Inampudi said. “I know this team can compete. As long as everyone tries their best, whatever happens, happens.”

Sponsor Scott Johnson expressed his profound confidence in the abilities of his team as well. He said he had faith in the team and its potential to become successful. 

“I think that last year was a great indicator of what we can potentially become. We now have 50 students, so having this history of making it to state … I think our group is capable of achieving whatever they desire,” Johnson said. 

The knowledge and skills of Science Olympiad members have seen triumph and turmoil over the past year. Johnson said they’ve grown to become better individuals and watching them collect their medals as a result of their hard-earned efforts was a great experience. 

“It’s really fun to watch students who have been on Science Olympiad for four years see them change, not only in their abilities scientifically but also in their leadership skills and in their confidence,” Johnson said. “By the time they’re seniors and are leaving, watching them collect their medals for their individual events is a great experience.”

As the regional competition drew near, students experienced a flurry of emotions ranging from excitement to nervousness. 

Junior member Trisha Shukla competed in the events Environmental Chemistry, Green Generation, and Remote Sensing. Green Generation has teams demonstrate their understanding on ecological principles and sustainability concepts. Remote Sensing focuses on the utilization of imagery, data, and computational skills to complete tasks related to climate change on Earth. 

She said she felt excited for the competition and the moments ahead of it. 

“I am excited for the competition as every year that I have participated, it has been a fun experience,” Shukla said. 

However, some students felt nervousness in regards to competing for the first time or participating in the complex build events. This was sophomore Katelin Hong’s first year being a part of Science Olympiad. 

She competed in Anatomy and Physiology and Chemistry Lab. Anatomy and Physiology requires teams to identify and assess their understanding on different human body systems, while Chemistry Lab has participants complete tasks and answer questions on scientific processes involving chemistry. 

Hong said she felt nervous overall because she’s never done a competition-based club like this before. 

“I’m pretty nervous because I’ve never done this before. I guess I’m a little excited just to see what happens, but I’m very nervous,” Hong said. 

Senior President Megan Schwab also competed in Rocks and Minerals and Ornithology. She expressed that she felt nervous in regards to the build events because of the intricate process of making sure everything goes according to plan. She said designs for build events can break easily, so you have to be willing to remain flexible and see how things go. 

“I think I’m a little more nervous for the build events because a lot of things can go wrong with those,” Schwab said. “The devices that we build can break pretty easily or there could be testing malfunctions, so you just kind of have to see how it goes.”

At its close, the team conveyed their widespread relief and elation in regards to finishing their competitions. 

Senior member Chris Cetnar competed in Ping Pong Parachute, Gravity Vehicle, Detector Building, Remote Sensing, and Experimental Design. Ping Pong Parachute is an event where participants must launch a ping pong ball attached and test how long it can stay aloft. Gravity Vehicle has teams designing, building, and testing a vehicle and ramp to reach a target as accurately as possible. Detector Building focuses on building conductivity devices to measure and display voltage concentrations of different water samples. Finally, Experimental Design is an event where participants must design, conduct, and report the findings of an experiment on-site.  

He was among one of the members who said he was happy with the results no matter what. 

“I feel amazing. It was very exhilarating and it’s satisfying to know that I applied all of my possible skills no matter the outcome,” Cetnar said. 

Not only were members satisfied individually, they felt that the team overall did an excellent job in light of the competition’s unexpected circumstances. Schwab said the team remained resourceful and handled potential problems accordingly. 

“I think everyone did a really good job of being resourceful,” Schwab said. “Obviously our competition being online is not ideal, but we made the best of it and handled the problems that came our way smoothly.”

Although the competition went smoothly, some members wished to make improvements for their next year or when the team advances to state. Cruz said he would go back and study more for certain events. 

“Even though we get access to more resources I didn’t feel knowledgeable enough in the topics, especially in building events where we finished right at the deadline,” Cruz said. “I would have started [studying] earlier.”

Uthe expressed the same sentiment, adding that wanting to improve on things you don’t know is part of the puzzle that makes up a competition. She said it becomes an experience and opportunity to learn more. 

“Of course, I would say I should study more next time because there’s never a cap on how much research and memorization and work I could put into an event,” Uthe said. “There will always be things I don’t know, and that’s the beauty of the competition. It forces you to learn and there are always more opportunities to learn. 

Johnson said he was proud of the team for enduring a tough competition and hopes that they make it to state. 

“We’ve had a collective sigh of relief.  This has been a long and enduring process, and I am so proud of my team,” Johnson said. “Only time will tell, but I know our crew is capable and dedicated.”

The results for the Science Olympiad regional competition come out on Sunday, March 20th.

Beliah Christian is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl