Stuyvesant Science Olympiad Team Wins Regionals Competition

Stuyvesant’s Science Olympiad team places first in February 4’s regional competition.

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By Mendy Zhou

Stuyvesant’s Science Olympiad (SciOly) team won first place at the NYC South Regional Competition on February 4 against many other schools in New York City, including Townsend Harris High School, Staten Island Technical High School, and Brooklyn Technical High School. The competition was hosted by Grover Cleveland High School, and the SciOly team is now moving on to the state level.

SciOly competes on a regional, state, and national level. There are 23 events that students can choose from, each focusing on different fields of science like astronomy, cell biology, chemistry, and forensics. The team is split up into two sections: the build section and the study section. In the former, teams create a project or model for each of the five specific events, with competitors chosen based on their knowledge and dedication to science. In the latter, students compete by taking written science tests, with teams being built around competitors’ test scores and their potential to win medals. Members of both sections meet frequently to hone their skills for competitions.

The team has been preparing for regionals since October through study sessions, lab work, and a series of invitationals. However, collaborative practice was the most effective preparation method for many members. “We usually like to work together and we like to be familiar with our events, so that involves event leaders teaching our members what’s potentially going to be on the test and the best strategies to be the most time-efficient,” junior and SciOly Vice President Jessica Liu said.

For binder events, in which competitors use notes and fact sheets to prepare for their competitions, assembling reference material was a crucial aspect of the planning process. In their binders, competitors compile the content they have studied to help them while taking tests. “Usually that information is really hard to remember, so it’s important to be familiar with your binder,” Liu said.

In each section, members are split up into five different divisions: biology, physics, chemistry, earth science, and technology/engineering. Throughout their preparation for the competition, each division has experienced its own unique challenges. “My division is chemistry and it is a little different because we have labs on top of the tests,” senior and SciOly Chemistry Captain Hanson He said. “For our team, we asked [chemistry teacher Dr. Jeffrey] Kivi to use the advanced chemistry lab after school and we ran all of our experiments there.”

During the competition, SciOly also faced the challenge of changes to standard regulations. “At some events, their rules are completely different [from] what we were used to, so the way they run things and their specific guidelines [for] what you are allowed to bring and not allowed to bring we were subject to completely different rules from other competitions we’ve been in,” Liu said.

Despite these ups and downs, many team members are satisfied with their success during this season. “We ha[d]n’t been doing the best throughout this year,” junior and SciOly member Eugene Guo said. “[At] Cornell, we [got] 12th in a 30-person competition [which] isn’t that good. We also did very badly on Long Island. I put so much effort into [regionals], so [beating] teams that were favored to win was the peak [moment] for me.”

However, other members were unpleasantly surprised by their final results despite originally feeling fairly confident about their performance at regionals. “[The Chemistry division] got second place for two of our events and third for the other,” He said. “We were a bit surprised [to not receive first place] because we medaled at every invitational before. [...] We got first in the Long Island Science Olympiad in chemistry, which was [at] the state level, and fifth in MIT, which was on a national level.”

After their success at regionals, competitors are continuing to work hard in an effort to maintain their winning streak for future competitions. At the state level, the top two teams qualify to compete at nationals. Last year, Stuyvesant took third place at states, ending their season. “This is our fourth year winning; we really just want to do well at states,” Guo said. “States is the next competition we have and it was basically where it ended last year.”

As much as SciOly members are nervous for the state competition, many have faith in the team’s success. “[States] will be on March 18 and, honestly, we are feeling very confident,” He said. “We usually don’t get first in every event [...], but we are super confident we can get a super high placing. We are aiming for first in everything.”