Science Olympiad sets record placement at State

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Photo by Science Olympiad Team

Emily Franke

At 5:45 a.m. on Saturday, April 18, RBHS Science Olympiad Green Team members loaded two buses with contraptions and team members to compete in the State Competition at Westminster University in Fulton, Missouri. After placing in almost every individual and team event, the Bruins earned 4th overall, which is the highest placement in the history of the team, junior Wendy Zhang said.
“I think we were all pretty surprised to get fourth, when they called us it was super exciting,” Zhang said. “We had a great team this year and everyone worked really hard, so I think we definitely deserved it.”
Freshman Kristine Cho, who participated in GeoLogic Mapping, Fossils and Astronomy, said placing made all the work worth it. Cho earned 3rd, 7th and 13th respectively in her events.
“Placing in general is a huge honor for me, especially at State where you have all of these St. Louis and Kansas City kids that are competing with you,” Cho said. “It’s also sort of like this huge ‘You did it! All of that work and all of that lack of sleep actually paid off.’ It’s really satisfying, for lack of a better word. My partner for Geologic Mapping and I placed higher than Ladue, a St. Louis school that normally dominates the competition, so it’s a way for us to say … ‘Hey, we did well, like, really well.’”
At the regional competition in February, RBHS’s Green team placed first and Gold team placed fourth. According to tournament rules, each school can only advance one team to the state level, so the Gold team did not get to compete at State. In preparation for the state contest, Zhang said she met with her partners to take practice exams and prepare “cheat sheets,” which are papers with notes that contestants can use during the exams. Zhang said Science Olympiad is independently-oriented, meaning each school focuses on doing well on its own.
“Of course we still worry about how we’ll perform compared to other schools, but we don’t really know how well we did relatively until the award ceremony,” Zhang said. “The competition is pretty diverse: there are schools from big cities like St. Louis and Kansas City, as well as from more rural areas. There are also private schools who have Science Olympiad as an actual class, so they always perform really well.”
Zhang said she hopes RBHS will one day qualify for Nationals, and with the end of the season the team has started to plan for next year and think of ways to make the team better overall. Additionally, after setting a new record this year, Khan said she hopes for similar success next year, and, along with Cho, she hopes to improve upon that record.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how Rock Bridge places in the years to come,” Cho said. “We’re losing the seniors this year, but we’re also getting a new set of students next year, so I’m interested to see what strengths next year’s freshmen will bring with them and how much the rest of the team will grow. Generally speaking, I hope we continue placing really well at the regional tournament, but I also hope that maybe, just maybe, we can inch our way even further up in the placings for State.”
By Emily Franke