Experimental Elites

Science Olympiad team builds on prior success

Priya Kukreja, Co-Editor-In-Chief

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On Sat., Feb. 25, scientific minds from across the region gathered at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium for an epic showdown: the 2017 Regional Science Olympiad Event.
The MN team sent 14 students to compete, earning a medal in ten events and finishing third overall.

“A Science Olympiad competition is like the Olympics! There are many different events happening all over the host campus throughout the day. The day even begins with a parade of schools carrying their flag,” physics teacher Phillip Manley said.

There are 16 events that high school contestants can choose to compete in, ranging from Astronomy to Wind Power. Each event is either an examination style test or a hands-on lab/experiment. Sophomore Olivia Benson chose to compete in the Towers and Ecology events at the start of the season.

“Ecology is a test event. Towers is a building event and is a lot more engaging. The goal is to build a tower with a minimum height of 60 cm that can hold up to 15 kg. The lightest structure that holds the most weight is the one that wins,” Benson said.

Benson and her partner, sophomore Rohit Kumar, finished second in the towers event.
There were ten other events in which MN students placed in the top six. Among them was senior Harsh Uppala. This is Uppala’s second year on the team. With three completely new events, Science Olympiad has been more than an intellectual engagement for him.

“I participate in Rocks and Minerals, Hydrogeology, and Experimental Design. Science Olympiad, for me, has been a creative outlet, because all of my events demand creativity,” Uppala said. “Experimental design allows me to design my own experiments, while Rocks and Minerals and Hydrogeology allow me to learn concepts that aren’t taught in any of my classes.”

The Science Olympiad team meets at school two to three times per week. Students prepare for their respective events by building, researching, or practicing experiments.

“For me, this means working with my partner to construct our tower. We’ll try to build a prototype tower to test and break before the State competition in April. This means we spend a lot of time building, destroying and then starting over to improve,” Benson said.

Students attribute a large part of their success to their coach. Manley brought the activity to MN in 2016 after coaching at Burke High School. Barely missing the top six at the State competition last year, Manley hopes to place in the top six at the 2017 State Competition on April 22.

“I have a great group of students who love science. That is the primary characteristic of the group,” Manley said.

While science class may seem daunting to some, members of the Science Olympiad team are able to explore different branches of science without the pressure of getting good grades. Driven by their love for science, these students continue to pursue new concepts in creative ways.

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Experimental Elites