Since September, the members of the Science Olympiad team have been toiling away in the Clavius Science Center, spending hours after school and on weekends preparing for a multitude of challenges and competitions.
Their hard work so far has paid off in a big way, as the squad obliterated the competition at the Northern Ohio Regional tournament on Saturday, February 29. With a 48-point victory over local rival Westlake, the Science Olympiad team secured a record-breaking score and their first regional title in four years. On April 25, they will head to the state tournament at The Ohio State University.
“This year's regional championship strengthens our conviction that we as a team can and will continue to improve and overcome challenges with the right mindset and dedication,” said team member Jason Zhang ’20. “Therefore, we hope to come back from the state tournament with a sixth place or better finish in one of the most competitive states in the entire nation.”
Senior team member Danny Mullen says that the work of Science Olympiad goes on behind the scenes, from late summer through early spring.
“The Science Olympiad season really lasts all year,” he says. “The event rules and parameters are released in early September. Then we spend months preparing for our invitational season, which lasts from December to March. Finally, after a two month period of preparation and improvement, the state competition ends the season in late April.”
Competitions are day-long affairs at schools throughout the region. They are broken up into six event periods, during which the 15 guys on the team are competing in a variety of contests, running the gamut of anatomy, astronomy, circuits, as well as countless areas of biology, chemistry, and physics.
“Every event has two to three guys on it, so there is much teamwork and coordination involved,” Mullen says. “After hours of competing, the hard work pays off at the awards ceremony where top competitors in each event are recognized. Finally, after a successful competition, a celebratory dinner at the closest Moe’s Southwest Grille is not uncommon!”
Zhang and Mullen both intend to continue their scientific studies in college.
“Science Olympiad has helped me learn how to learn,” says Zhang, who is considering a career in medicine. “Beyond just gaining good study habits that will serve me in college, it has also taught me how to love learning for the sake of learning. Sometimes this translates to identifying bones and muscles on chicken that I'm having for dinner. Other times, this might be spitting out some random fact about a bird I see while walking to my car. Thus, Science Olympiad has built a framework for me to make connections and understand this world through science.”
Mullen has his sights set on an electrical engineering degree at the University of Kentucky or the University of Notre Dame.
“Science Olympiad has certainly prepared me to be successful in an engineering field simply because of the experience,” he says. “In a college or job interview, it is very easy to reference Science Olympiad as a source of experience for working on engineering tasks as a member and leader of a team. Science Olympiad events cover such a wide range of topics that it is truly the best way for someone interested in a STEM field to explore different areas before college.”
Indeed, the work of helping their team return to the state tournament hasn’t been happening since late summer, but since their freshman year. When these seniors and their fellow Science Olympians hit Columbus in April, they will seek their first-ever top-three finish in history.
Congratulations to these men, their teacher moderators (Tom Bogen, Chris McGinness ’06, Guy Savastano and Nathan Chaffee) and the entire Science Olympiad team. Good luck at states!