By: Staff Writer Annie Tang
The Bay Area Science Olympiad competition ended on a successful note for MSJ students on March 21, as two out of the three MSJ teams who attended placed first and second overall.
The A team, which is comprised mainly of juniors and seniors, placed first and qualified to advance to the state level. C team Captain Senior Catherine Hou, a member of the A team said, “We were actually kind of nervous to see which team would go to States, since it’s one team per school, and we had put together a really, really strong B team. They medaled in almost all the events we did and sometimes placed higher, so it was pretty nerve-wracking.” In the end, the B team performed almost equally as well, placing second overall.
Apart from the A and B teams, the newly formed C team, according to Hou, performed “phenomenally well, considering that only two people out of the eight that participated on that team had any experience whatsoever in the competition.” The students on the C team were able to medal in the top five in a few of their events, and contributed to MSJ’s overall medal count. At least one of the MSJ teams medaled in 22 out of the 23 events. The achievements of these teams are further amplified as Hou states, “We are one of the top teams that perform extremely well, yet don’t have a class during school, don’t have resources just handed to us by supporting teachers.”
Although MSJ Science Olympiad is an entirely student-run club, the beginning of the 2014-15 school year drew in a multitude of new, eager students interested in participating in Science Olympiad. Due to an overwhelmingly large growth in the number of MSJ students who signed up for Science Olympiad this year, Fong and the other captains had to hold tryouts for the first time in order to select who would represent MSJ at this year’s competition. Tryouts included a written test, created by Fong and C team Captain Hou, as well as a mock event for the applicants to compete in.
Students were chosen based on their results and, if applicable, their previous Science Olympiad experience. This data also helped the captains determine each individual’s team placement and event assignments. Every team has 15 people, and each participant typically competes in 3-4 events. Unfortunately, over the school year, a few members of the C team ended up leaving and reduced the number of competitors to eight. Most of the events require partners, so students would pair up within their teams in order to compete in subjects ranging from lab sciences, such as biology or chemistry, to hands-on events, such as engineering.
MSJ Science Olympiad as a whole exceeded A team Captain Senior Nathan Fong’s expectations this year. Although the A team had placed in the top three at regionals in the past few years, the B team had never performed that well. However, not only did both teams take first and second place, the A team also qualified to advance to the State level. They will be competing in the NorCal Science Olympiad on April 18 in Turlock.
Fong attributes the teams’ success to the fact that “some of the better schools were moved to a different regional competition, but also the teams this year from our school were better than previous years in my opinion.” Fong states that he was impressed with how well B team performed, considering a majority of the team consists of freshman and sophomores. Fong says, “I have no doubt that SciOly [Science Olympiad] at MSJ is going to be even more amazing the next few years as these freshmen get more experience, since they already proved themselves more than capable this year.”