MD Science Olympiad team makes it to States

Izzy Abbott, Staff Writer

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The sixth through ninth grade Science Olympiad Team traveled to Syracuse, New York, last Friday to participate in the Division B and C states competition, accompanied by Dean of Class of 2025 Michelle Amilicia, Middle Division (MD) science teacher Michael Degasperi, as well as club advisors Michael Epstein and Jodi Hill.

The team meets every Monday and Thursday to prepare for competition activities such as tests, labs, and “building events,” in which the students construct models based on topics of their choosing, Hill said.  The topics cater to a wide range of student interests, from astronomy, to thermodynamics, and each student gets to select which subject they want to focus on, she said.

Before going to states, the team placed fifth in the regional competition, qualifying them for last Friday’s event, JoJo Mignone (7) said. 

The states competition is similar to regionals, although its activities are more challenging.  The teams who participated were also at a higher level than the school’s own team. With schools that almost embed Science Olympiad into their curriculum, the competition was fierce this year, team member Louise Kim (8) said. 

On top of the more competitive atmosphere, students only had one month between regionals and states to prepare, during which they studied for their tests, practiced building models, and came up with mock lab questions, Mitch Obia (6), another member of the team, said.

Each student prepared one or multiple topics of their choosing and competed in various activities.  In some cases, students only had 50 minutes to complete a 125 question test, Kim, who participated in heredity, anatomy/physiology, and epidemiology (the study of disease), said. 

Obia and Kim cited their general interest for science as well as their desire to learn about topics they may not get to explore inside the classroom as the reasons why they joined the team. 

“Yes, you have to be passionate about science, but I also wanted them to just have fun and learn,” Hill said. “I never want it to become a chore.”

Though the team did not get first place overall, the students, advisors, and chaperones were very proud that they had got so far, Kim said.

“The kids represented Horace Mann so wonderfully,” Hill said.  “And I’m glad they had so much fun working together and cheering each other on.”

For Mignone, the most memorable part of the competition was the awards ceremony, when, even if no one on the team won, all members cheered for their teammates’ events as well as for the other teams, she said. 

Students gained not only interesting and important knowledge about new scientific topic from this experience, but also a sense of community and friendship by being on the team, Kim said.  “Having a successful team is not based on the ranking but how close we become as a team through these events,” she said.

Overall, it was a positive and rewarding experience for all students, regardless of winning medals, and it will be something many students pursue in high school, Mignone said.