By Celina Sun
Months of studying and building. Hours spent staying after school. A historic fourth place finish at the state competition. South’s Science Olympiad A Team placed higher than 50 other teams at this past March’s New York State Tournament— ranking fourth out of New York’s 600 plus teams. Although only the top two teams at states qualify for nationals, fourth is the highest South has ever placed at states since the club’s inception in 1986.
A team-based competition, Science Olympiad consists of 25 events, which cover topics from a variety of sciences. This year’s state tournament featured events with topics ranging from Bridge Building to Fossils and marked the first time South ranked first in any event. Club president senior Angela Chi and A Team Captain senior Jacqueline Liao took first place in Wright Stuff while Chi and juniors Elissa He and Melody Yang placed first in Protein Modeling. A Team also medaled in several events, including Air Trajectory, Astronomy, Experimental Design, Game On, and Green Generation.
The club’s co-advisor Dr. James Truglio attributed the team’s success to the team’s “fifteen incredibly talented, hard-working [members] who [bore] the range of expertise required to juggle twenty five diverse events.” He also credited the team’s collaboration, saying that A Team “worked seamlessly together and truly respected and cared about each other throughout the journey.”
Club president Chi said, “We really started feeling like a team after Battle at Valley Forge Invitationals because we all woke up at 3:30 am to get to school at 4 am, but no one was late, and we all had a team dinner after the competition.” Chi emphasized the importance of thinking like a team since performance in individual events contributes to the team’s overall score.
Chi also supported that going to both the Islip Invitational and the Battle at Valley Forge Invitational helped increase the team’s preparedness and competitiveness. “It was really nice,” she said, “because there was around a month between the first invitational and the second, so [we] had enough time to really assess our weaknesses and improve on them.”
A Team placed sixth at Islip and third at Battle at Valley Forge despite having two fewer team members than the usual fifteen. To compensate, some members did up to five or six events instead of three. Competing at Nassau West Regionals with 13 members, A Team placed first with a team score of 71.
This year’s team has “raised the bar,” Dr. Truglio said, “and next we shoot for nationals.”