Science Olympiad takes 6th at state

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Rochita Ghosh

The RBHS Science Olympiad team poses for a group photo before entering the Awards Ceremony at Westminster College.
After a few all-nighters, frantic printing of notes and broken contraptions, the RBHS Science Olympiad team competed in the State competition at Westminster College April 9 in Fulton, Mo. RBHS took home sixth place overall, falling just short of the hopes of Science Olympiad coach Stephanie Harman.
“My goal for each year is to qualify a team for State [at Regionals], beat our rivals, and place in the top five at State,” Harman said. “Placing sixth was a little lower than I would have thought this team was capable of, but it’s not too far from the goals I set for us.”
Freshman Kathleen Meninger competed separately from the RBHS team for the event Anatomy and Physiology, since she placed first at the regionals competition in February but was not a part of the RBHS State team; however, she placed first in the event, and said she learned a large part of her event from a variety of sources on her own.
“I prepared by reading the [Science Olympiad forums] and resources on the Science Olympiad website, and researching anything that wasn’t on there or I had questions about,” Meininger said. “My preparation for state wasn’t much different, except I studied more and paid more attention to the details.”
Senior Arnold Chen echoes Meininger’s style of preparation, adding that his experiences from the Regionals competition in February helped show what he needed to improve on. With this being his last year of competing in Science Olympiad, he feels grateful for not only the opportunities that the extracurricular provided him, but what it taught him as well.Senior Arnold Chen and freshman Leo Zhuang accept fifth place for their event It’s About Time. Photo by Rochita Ghosh“There are all kinds of science to engage in [at] Science Olympiad, and the variety of events that is available is what makes Science Olympiad very rewarding for me,” Chen said. “Studying and preparing for these events has also taught me dedication and patience. The failure involved in building a bad device has taught me that if I can be patient and keep working on it, I can build a good device.”
What Chen learned paid off for him, earning him first place in Wind Power and fifth in one of his other events, It’s About Time. He said that a considerable challenge he and his partner faced was the independent learning involved with Science Olympiad.“In a science class, learning is largely guided by the teacher; in Science Olympiad, learning is led by the individual himself or herself,” Chen said. “For Wind Power, my partner and I received help from teachers, but we had to figure out how to build a working wind turbine, as well as consider stability that the wind turbine would not fall apart while spinning, and using materials that are easy to obtain.”
Harman does not regard this as the biggest obstacle that the team faced at State; instead, she believes it is their competition that makes qualifying to Nationals difficult.
“I think, talent-wise, we are a top team in the state – the issue with qualifying for nationals is going to be money and time,” Harman said. “The schools that perennially qualify – schools like Pembroke Hill and Ladue – are able to devote so much more time to learning and practicing than we can as an extracurricular team.”
Harman hopes to improve their chances next year by implementing competition early on and staving off against procrastination.
“For next year, I expect a competitive team again, especially with the talent we will bring back in the lower grades,” Harman said. “I would like to see us compete a little more among ourselves or attend an invitational tournament to test ourselves against the top level teams before we get to state. I will probably try to build in a little more accountability due to the last-minute nature of some of our preparations this year.”
Meininger looks forward to next year, hoping to use her experiences at State and the additions that Harman mentioned to improve for the next competition.
“State this year helped me because it was the first year I’ve placed at State, so I know a little more about what it takes to place and how much work you need to do,” Meininger said. “Next year I hope that our team will do well.”
Editor’s note: The author of this article was an individual qualifier for the Science Olympiad State competition.
What do you think is the most challenging part of preparing for a competition? Leave a comment below.