Northwest Horizons

Northwest places sixth at regional Science Olympiad competition Feb. 23

The+Northwest+varsity+science+olympiad+team+created+this+%22Mission+Possible%22+machine.+The+Northwest+Vikings+scored+sixth+at+the+Feb.+23+regional+competition+and+therefore+will+not+advance+to+states.
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Northwest places sixth at regional Science Olympiad competition Feb. 23

The Northwest varsity science olympiad team created this

The Northwest varsity science olympiad team created this "Mission Possible" machine. The Northwest Vikings scored sixth at the Feb. 23 regional competition and therefore will not advance to states.

The Northwest varsity science olympiad team created this "Mission Possible" machine. The Northwest Vikings scored sixth at the Feb. 23 regional competition and therefore will not advance to states.

The Northwest varsity science olympiad team created this "Mission Possible" machine. The Northwest Vikings scored sixth at the Feb. 23 regional competition and therefore will not advance to states.

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The shine of gold medals gleaming in the light, the students taking power naps in auditoriums, the smell of coffee and food-truck food filling the air, the look of dazed kids running around with makeshift machines–if you witness these strange occurrences, then you are probably at a Science Olympiad competition. The regional Science Olympiad competition was hosted at UNCG on Feb. 23; schools from all across the Greensboro area competed.

“Science Olympiad is a science competition with 23 events,” chemistry teacher Janet Wells said. “It covers everything from biology (to) engineering. Some of them are building events; some of them are knowledge events.”

There were roughly 18 varsity teams and 13 junior varsity teams.

“Each event requires two people,” Wells said, “and there (can be up to 18) total people on a team. This means that each team member has to (participate) in more than one event. You want the lowest number of points; for example, if you get first place in an event, you get one point.”

First place varsity high school was East Chapel Hill High with 57 points; second place was Chapel Hill High with 108 points; third place was Early College at Guilford with 142 points; fourth place was Northern High with 147 points; fifth place was Greensboro Day with 154 points. Northwest High accumulated roughly 155 points, placing in sixth; it will not be advancing as only the top four go to states.

Despite not placing, many still found the competition worthwhile and enjoyable.

“There are not enough opportunities to promote engineering in high school,” Wells said. “This is one of the best opportunities for kids to just express their creativity, try new things, get together and have some fun.”

The previous science olympiad teacher, Rice Strange, left Northwest High after last school year. Wells, chemistry teacher Cathy Haywood and physics teacher Caroline Hess restarted the club per request of juniors Teresa Pan and Christy Ma, who became the co-vice presidents.

“We all felt strongly that this was a great opportunity for students,” Hess said. “We wanted to make sure that it was available to them.”

Leading up to the competition were months of preparation. Building events require students to create working machines and devices that fit the listed parameters, and testing events require students to research their topic ahead of time and create “cheat-sheets.”

For club leaders, there are more responsibilities beyond preparing for events.

“The hardest part is putting together the team,” Pan said. “(You have to take in consideration) what events they want, their preferred team members and which team to place them in.”

The skills developed in Science Olympiad are applicable beyond high school and in STEM related jobs.

“(It) trains our next generation of STEM leaders,” treasurer Franklin Wei said. “The competition is a great example of teamwork, (and) it’s really cool to see the things that kids come up with from around the county.”

Science Olympiad can be greatly rewarding despite the hard-work it demands.

“The collection of highly motivated students (working towards) a common goal was an inspiring sight to see,” co-president senior Daniel Yim said. “I definitely recommend this to anyone interest in STEM.”

For those interested in joining Science Olympiad next year, the sponsoring teachers offer up advice.

“Start working on events early,” Haywood said. “This is open for everybody–freshman, sophomore, (even rising seniors can try it)–so don’t be intimidated. We want to include anyone with an interest in engineering, science, math or who just want to try something different. You don’t have to be in AP classes, or know much about STEM (beforehand). It’s for everybody to (just) start learning.”

Science Olympiad goes beyond the achievements and medals; it is a culmination of genuine passion and sentimentality.

“(I love Science Olympiad) because I have been doing it since ninth grade,” Pan said. “It is really fun. It means something in my heart.”

The Science Olympiad rankings split between the junior varsity and varsity teams.

The combined junior varsity and varsity rankings.

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Northwest places sixth at regional Science Olympiad competition Feb. 23