Science Olympiad Team Competes in MIT Tournament


Roxie Allen

Junior Ethan Pesikoff works on a musical problem on the chalkboard.

Lily McCullough and Ethan Kinsella

In the second year since its establishment, the Science Olympiad team is already competing at out-of-state tournaments against teams that have been participating for decades.

Consisting of 16 students, the Science Olympiad team traveled to Boston for an invitational at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Friday, Jan. 19 for the Jan. 20th tournament. Chemistry teacher Roxie Allen, a sponsor of the group, and biology teacher Douglas Elliott chaperoned the trip. Physics teacher Ryan DePuit is the other sponsor, and the captains are seniors Kevin Jung, Zachary Boroughs and Sanna Symer and junior Hanson Yu.

“As a team we want to have a fun experience, but, at the same time, we want to learn from it and really take the opportunity to go to this competition at MIT and do the best we can there,” Symer said.

Science Olympiad is known as an academic track meet because participants work individually or in groups toward an overall team score, yet students can be awarded for their individual work as well.

The events cover many fields of science, including genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechanical engineering and technology. Building events, labs and tests are just some of the 23 events. Each event is typically 50 minutes to an hour long and involves a team of two to three people.

The team scored second place in the Code Busters event, in which an encrypted message must be decoded using cryptanalysis techniques and advanced ciphers.

“The team felt pretty good about how we did considering the length of time we’ve been doing this compared to the other teams that have been doing this for decades,” Allen said.

The team placed 44th overall in the competition out of 75 teams at MIT.

“Our students are just as capable and smart and very able to compete at that level. We just need to work together to improve our preparation,” Allen said.

The students found their novice skills put to the test during the building events. Many of the other teams started preparing for the building events last summer as these events entail a product being built ahead of time and then tested while at the competition.

“We learned that we’re going to need to prepare earlier, and more,” Elliott said. “We learned how to do that from this trip and what it’s going to take to be more competitive.”

Last year, the team won the South Texas Regional Science Olympiad Tournament in McAllen and then advanced to the Texas Science Olympiad Tournament run by Texas A&M University, where they placed eighth. The students will participate in the regional tournament next month with hopes of advancing to the state tournament later this spring.

“I hope that this is something that we can sustain,” Allen said. “We have a lot of upperclassmen, so I hope we can get some more freshmen and sophomores to want to participate in it and be mentored by the juniors and seniors that are involved.”

Roxie Allen
It was the Science Olympiad team’s first competition at MIT.