Science Olympiad Green Team places second at Regionals

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Science Olympiad Green and Gold members pose for a group picture after the Awards Ceremony at the Regionals competition.

Rochita Ghosh

Science Olympiad Green and Gold members pose for a group picture after the Awards Ceremony at the Regionals competition.
Instead of sleeping in on Saturday mornings, as many students look forward to, the Science Olympiad RBHS teams, Green and Gold, woke in the early morning hours Feb. 13. They travelled to the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Missouri, to compete in the Regionals competition.
The teams took home a respective second and fourth place, meaning both teams qualified to advance to the State tournament on Apr. 9 at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. However, because of the competition rule that a school can send only one team to the State competition, RBHS will not be able to send both Green and Gold teams.
Hickman High School earned first place at the Regionals tournament, which RBHS took home last year, leaving many members feeling bitter. RBHS Science Olympiad coach Stephanie Harman said this is a typical occurrence at the competition, but takes responsibility for the lower place.
“For the past three or four years, every other year Rock Bridge and Hickman have switched places at Regionals … If we’re getting second on a tiebreaker, I can’t be terribly upset,” Harman said. “The reason we got second was because of a coaching mistake, because I didn’t have the right people on the right teams. We split all of those first places, and the fact that they were not on Green is basically what cost us first, and that was my decision. I’ll take that, I’ll take a coaching mistake, and we still get to go to State anyway.”
[quote cite=”Leo Zhuang, freshman”]At [GMS], I don’t teach them the events, I teach them how to have fun, because at the end of the day, that’s what’s important. If you have fun at Science Olympiad, it doesn’t matter how well you do.[/quote] Freshman and Green team member Leo Zhuang is no stranger to Science Olympiad, with this year being his fourth, but this was his first year of competing in Division C, the category for high schools. Previously, he participated in Division B, the category for middle schools, and found the step up a challenge.
“Last year in Division B, I was in eighth grade. Top of the food chain, you know?” Zhuang said. “Now, moving into Division C, I’m at the bottom of the food chain as a freshman. So it’s much harder to compete, but besides that, the events are the same, just tougher [competition].”
Another problem he dealt with was an issue of time management, as not only did he compete for the Green team, he also acted as a mentor to the Gentry Middle School (GMS) Science Olympiad team, which he was a member of last year. Zhuang said he was careful to give both teams an equal amount of his time, as he did not want to disappoint either school. He took extra care for GMS, wanting to give the members the same experience he had.
“I see all these clubs at school where there’s mentors coming in and doing a lot of the students’ work, and I’m thinking, ‘That’s not really the student’s team anymore,’” Zhuang said. “Like, if two years ago, back at [GMS], a mentor came in and did everything for me, I wouldn’t have had the same experience. So, at [GMS], I don’t teach them the events, I teach them how to have fun, because at the end of the day, that’s what’s important. If you have fun at Science Olympiad, it doesn’t matter how well you do.”
Despite the difficulty, Zhuang performed well in all of his events, placing fourth in It’s About Time, third in Air Trajectory and first in Bridge Building and in Fossils. Likewise, senior Clayton Warder, a veteran competitor and a member of the Gold team, encountered difficulty as well, albeit for different reasons than Zhuang. He still placed fourth in the event Hydrogeology, and continued to enjoy the Regionals competition this year.
“I felt like [Science Olympiad] was a good experience even though it was a lot more difficult than last year,” Warder said. “I faced the challenge of being in events that were changed very last minute for me, in addition to a much harder test than last year for one of my events.”
Harman attributes the struggles that Warder and others faced to the way that the university runs the competition.
“Regionals is always tough, because the schedule tends to come out very late, so there’s usually some pretty significant last minute changes,” Harman said. “Then, when once we’re here, [the organizers] tend to fall back to the same tests every year, whether those match what we’ve been studying from the rule book. I know in a couple of events, the tests that were taken did not match our preparedness because we were preparing by the rule book, which will make a difference at State.”
Zhuang now turns his focus toward the tournament, resolved to beat the tough competition and place well.
“Regionals has given me a taste of what each event is like,” Zhuang said. “Knowing what each event actually is like now, I can improve greatly upon what I have learned from the written tests and the building events for State.”
Harman looks to the competition as well, hoping to create the best chances for RBHS to perform well at State.
“The tough part now is figuring out who to take to State, because out of all the people who placed really well, we can still only take 15, so that’s where I have to go back now and crunch some numbers and deduce what the best chances are,” Harman said. “If we get second here and put together a stronger team because we split them here, and pull them all together in a stronger team for State, who knows.”
Editor’s note: The author is a member of the Science Olympiad Gold team.