Science Olympiad team places sixth at regionals

The+Science+Olympiad+team+competes+at+Antelope+Valley+College+Saturday%2C+Feb.+18.+The+group+placed+sixth+out+of+32+schools+in+the+competition%2C+with+improved+scores+from+last+year+%28printed+with+permission+from+the+Science+Olympiad+club%29.
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Science Olympiad team places sixth at regionals

The Science Olympiad team competes at Antelope Valley College Saturday, Feb. 18. The group placed sixth out of 32 schools in the competition, with improved scores from last year (printed with permission from the Science Olympiad club).

The Science Olympiad team competes at Antelope Valley College Saturday, Feb. 18. The group placed sixth out of 32 schools in the competition, with improved scores from last year (printed with permission from the Science Olympiad club).

The Science Olympiad team competes at Antelope Valley College Saturday, Feb. 18. The group placed sixth out of 32 schools in the competition, with improved scores from last year (printed with permission from the Science Olympiad club).

The Science Olympiad team competes at Antelope Valley College Saturday, Feb. 18. The group placed sixth out of 32 schools in the competition, with improved scores from last year (printed with permission from the Science Olympiad club).

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Thirty-two schools. Twenty-three events. Fifteen Oak Park competitors.

The Oak Park Science Olympiad team placed sixth out of 32 schools at the 31st annual Los Angeles Regional Science Olympiad at Antelope Valley College on Saturday, Feb. 18. As only the top five competing teams are invited to the state competition, Oak Park students barely missed the opportunity to compete at the state level.

At the regional competition, students compete in partners for 21 events that are split into three categories: build, lab and test.

The build event requires a prebuilt object taken to the competition to be judged on how well it completes a specific purpose. For this year’s competition, the required objects include helicopters and towers.

“Unlike any of the other events, building requires you to not only understand the information, but apply it in a unique way that speaks to you,” junior Ritesh Malpani wrote in an email.

The build events differ substantially from the lab portions, which require students to perform a lab on the spot. However, competitors may prepare portions of the lab in advance. Labs cover a variety of subjects, ranging from experimental design, where students are graded on the quality of the lab they create, to forensics, where teams must use forensic evidence to catch a “culprit.”

“For lab events, we focus on crafting and testing designs, enhancing our writing in lab analyses and experimenting with our foundational set of chemistry lab skills,” senior and Vice President Stephanie Chang said.

The test is a timed test that covers a specific subject at the competition. Test events are often split into two types, station events and pure test events. In most test events, competitors may bring a single-page cheat sheet, or a cheat binder up to 100 pages.

“Test events are written exams or station events that require [the competitors] to prepare from a variety of sources,” Chang said. “[We] need to be able to analyze and draw conclusions based on given situations.”

One such test event was Anatomy and Physiology, in which freshman Kaitlyn Lee and senior Elly Lee competed.

I think this is the best club to [pursue a career in medicine] because you’re surrounded by people who like the same subject as you — science — and you make new friends while you’re learning new stuff.”

— Kaitlyn Lee

“I really liked Anatomy and Physiology because I’ve always been interested in medicine. [Science Olympiad] just lengthened my knowledge in that field,” Kaitlyn Lee said. “I think this is the best club to [pursue a career in medicine] because you’re surrounded by people who like the same subject as you — science — and you make new friends while you’re learning new stuff.”

Science Olympiad competitors have six months to prepare for their events, whether by building a helicopter from the ground up, or amassing and memorizing cheat binders.

“In terms of preparation, each team manages its schedule quite independently and its members frequently communicate with one another to collaborate on their projects and follow up with updates,” Chang said. “Through regular check-ups, time management, and taking the initiative to contribute to our team’s success, [competition preparation] progresses smoothly.”

This year, there were five members participating in Science Olympiad for the first time.

“I was fairly excited and tired,” junior Julia Rychlik, one of these five new members, wrote in an email. “This was my first time competing on the team so I didn’t know what to expect; however, I knew that I prepared well, so I was going to do fine no matter what.”

Senior and team co-captain Rithik Kumar said he agreed that the team had prepared well, and that the team’s scores reflected their preparation.

“I think we did really well. We beat out some of the other teams in the area as well. We got first to sixth [place] in multiple events and a lot of awards. We had really good averages for each of our team members and we did better in build-events than we did last year,” Kumar said.

This is science teacher Troy Labnow’s fourth year as the advisor for the Oak Park Science Olympiad team.

“I think what was different about this one [competition] was that people signed up for events that maybe some people wanted to branch out on. I thought that was good,” Labnow said. “I’m happy overall, in how the team did. I think they had fun.”

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