The school’s Science Olympiad (SciOly) team qualified for the state competition last Saturday after competing in a variety of scientific tests and events at The Bronx Science High School of Science and placing sixth at New York City West Regionals.
This was the first year that NYC high schools were split into two regions for SciOly: East and West. The school is in the west region of the city, so some of the team’s competition included Bronx Science, Collegiate High School, Regis High School, Hunter College High School, and The Spence School.
“It was very intense,” co-President Malhaar Agrawal (12) said. “These are very strong science schools.” Many of the other schools have class periods during the school day designated towards Science Olympiad, he said.
While the competition was fierce, the team managed to qualify for states after squeaking into fourth place behind Collegiate, Bronx Science, and Hunter College. Each school that participated brought two teams each, but only one team per school could qualify for states. The best overall finish for the school was sixth, but due to the rule of one team per school, they were bumped into the top four.
Agrawal placed third in Dynamic Planet, a test that covered concepts about the Earth’s oceans with Steve Yang (9), and fifth in Water Quality with Erin Zhao (11), which was a test event covering aquatic ecosystems and life in water.
The team has been preparing since November, Agrawal said. “Preparation involves taking practice tests, reading textbooks. This content is not really covered in school and if it is, this science event takes it one a one and a half steps further.”
“You have to do a little bit extra studying,” co-President Reha Mathur (12) said. Mathur placed first in the Chemistry Lab with Yang, first in Code Busters with Arden Chen (12) and Isha Agarwal (12), which involved memorizing different ciphers and decoding phrases, fourth in the Machines Lab with Chen, and fourth in the Circuit Lab with Emily Shi (11). For Machines Lab, students had to build a compound machine to measure the ratio of three masses, and Circuit Lab required students to take a test about circuits, electricity, and magnetism.
The school also took home first place in Sounds of Music thanks to Agarwal and Chen. For Sounds of Music, students had to build musical instruments and then take a test regarding the physics of sound. Agarwal and Chen built pipes that when blown into would make different sounds, Chen said.
Catherine Mignone (10) placed second for building a Ping-Pong Parachute in an event where participants had to build a rocket, using liter-sized bottles and tape, that would deploy a parachute with a ping pong ball in it. The judges determined the winner by how long the rocket and the parachute were in the air.
“I had to do many trials in order to get the rocket to be efficient and to develop the deployment mechanism for the parachute,” Mignone said. She was proud of her overall performance and worked hard to achieve second place, she said.
“I competed very well and certainly the team did very well. So that’s great news, clearly, it’s a testament to how strong the team was,” Agrawal said. There is significant interest in the SciOlyteam at the school, he said. “Those folks who are interested really put their A-game towards studying preparation building.”
“Science Olympiad is not an individual competition but rather a way for HM students to come together as a team,” Agarwal said. “The experience is similar to a sports game in that I feel immense school pride and want to do the best I can as a representative of Horace Mann.”