THHS Science Olympiad Team qualifies for their first ever Science Olympiad Nationals Competition

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For the first time since the team’s founding in 2005, the Townsend Harris Science Olympiad Team (SciOly) qualified for the National Science Olympiad Competition last Wednesday, as one of the top sixty teams in the country. This comes after SciOly placed second at the New York State Science Olympiad Competition, where they competed against the top 68 teams in New York and earned 22 medals or top 10 finishes in categories such as Anatomy and Physiology, Astronomy, Circuit Lab, Codebusters, and Forensics to name a few.  

Many of the Science Olympians expressed their elation and shock at the announcement. “The individual results for each of our events were super exciting, but I couldn’t even pay close attention because I knew that Nationals was coming. Every other award we won was like an additional cherry on top of the Nationals sundae. Making Townsend history felt incredible,” said junior Sonia Hasko. She also mentioned that alumni joined a Zoom to congratulate them.

Senior Noah Stein, another long-time member of the team, had similar thoughts. “I remember the last states competition that we went to was completely dominated by three top schools, so I didn’t have any expectation of taking a nationals spot,” he said. “But it was very gratifying after all the hours spent studying and taking practice tests.”

Science Olympiad Coach Sarah Loew recalled being incredibly proud the team was able to come together even in this less than ideal situation. “This is the first time we have earned the opportunity to compete at Nationals and some students have never even met their partners or teammates in person yet,” said Mrs. Loew. Everyone’s discipline and dedication made this achievement possible.”

The team had studied rigorously, holding study sessions and attending numerous practice competitions online. Without the obstacle of traveling long distance for in-person events, the team has been able to attend even more invitational competitions than ever before with schools all around the country, according Ms. Loew. “We also strongly emphasized learning the fundamentals of events through textbooks and videos, which I believe helped individuals become experts in their events,” said senior and SciOly President Katie Sie. 

Sonia added that the requirements were a bit more demanding this year. “We were required to submit proof of a lot of test-taking and studying, and we had to show up at study sessions for a couple hours each week while also working with our partners,” she said.

However, the intense training and preparation allowed Sonia to feel prepared for competition. “I’ve been studying for some of my events in SciOly since September of freshman year,” she said. “Katie and Bushra [Science Olympiad Vice President] have done a great job of preparing us for this moment.”  

Regardless, some areas of the State Competition were more difficult than others. “I’ll definitely try to focus my attention on some niche areas of the topics I need to know so that I am better prepared,” Sonia said.

Noah added the Nationals was going to be even tougher. “As of now, the plan is just to learn as much new information as possible to prepare for the national level tests,” Noah said.

When asked how the team would prepare and train for the next competition, Ms. Loew said, “The National level contains a greater amount of material and the competition is very strong. The team will continue to study and practice more over the next month. We will have daily study sessions and take weekly practice tests to help prepare.”

Katie expressed her anticipation for the upcoming competition. “Even though this is our first time, it is exciting to have another opportunity to apply the knowledge we spent the whole season building,” she said. Considering it will be her final Science Olympiad competition as a senior, Katie said she looks forward to “making Nationals count” while “having fun.”

Mrs. Loew said she views this hallmark achievement as a great way for the team to continue moving forward. “Science Olympiad has the ability to open not just doors, but an entire universe for our students,” Mrs. Loew said.“There are many scholarships, prizes, and other opportunities that are available for students through this program.”

In place of the usual SciOly National Competition parade, “the team will be recording several videos to show off team and state pride,” Katie said.

“[The team] showed a great deal of resilience in the face of adversity and I am grateful to work with them,” Ms. Loew said. The 37th Annual SciOly National Tournament, hosted by Arizona State University, will be held from May 21 to May 22.

Photo courtesy of the THHS Science Olympiad Team