Steel Hawks and SciOly reflect on being back in-person

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After a school year of virtual club meetings, the STEM-based extracurriculars of Townsend Harris are now back to fully in-person activities. Townsend’s academic teams — Steel Hawks and Science Olympiad — leaders and members at THHS share their thoughts on transitioning from virtual to in-person, the progress being made in their clubs, and what they hope to accomplish by the end of this year. 

Steel Hawks

The Steel Hawks robotics team shares some of the same thoughts when it comes to the struggles of being virtual. Senior Jessica Jimenez, a member of the team, said, “One thing that I felt was missing over quarantine was that connection with the other members of the team. When we used to have robotics in school, prior to the pandemic, many people would mingle around in different rooms [and] kind of talk to each other but because we were online and we were strictly in breakout rooms, meeting other people in other subteams and hanging out was kind of restricted. I think this correlates to the lack of interest in other subteams and the shyness that the new members have. Now that we are in person again, I hope that the team can bond like it used to.” 

The Steel Hawks are currently taking part in the FIRST Robotics competition, consisting of not only mechanical & electrical engineers to build the robot, but also programmers who help write the code. In addition, the social media team promotes the club through different mixed media projects. Member of the Chairman’s Team, senior Chris Gilson said, “The chairman’s award is the most prestigious award at FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) given to a model team.” In order for teams to win, they will write an essay on their respective robotics team, give a presentation to a panel of three judges, and compose a mini film about team outreach and impact in advancing robotics and STEM education locally and nationally.         

Jessica also discusses the objective of the upcoming season: “Because of COVID-19 restrictions, there’s a limit to how many members can come to competitions. Our off-season competition is coming up and I know that in previous years the number of members who could come was unlimited. In fact, everyone was encouraged to come, but this year there’s a limit of 15 people, including the veterans, that have to be there to drive and fix the robot. The lack of interest and lack of hands-on experiences for newer members concerns me for the future of the robotics team, as that connection and interest are vital to this club thriving.” 

Science Olympiad

Science Olympiad, also known as SciOly, is an academic team at THHS that partakes in different competitions involving various fields of science including biology, physics, and engineering as well as more creative and undiscovered parts of STEM.

President of Science Olympiad senior Sonia Hasko said, “We missed the in-person competitions, which are everyone’s favorite part of the club. While it’s still difficult to find in-person competitions this year since many switched to a virtual format, we’re hoping to attend a couple of them.” “[Currently,] We have almost 100 members as of now, which is really exciting.! We love seeing interest in SciOly. Everyone is currently preparing for inhouses, which are the placement tests we use to form teams,” Sonia explained.

In regards to competitions, SciOly is now able to compete anywhere in the US due to most competitions transferring to a virtual setting and the number of competitions they can attend has also increased.

As a member of SciOly, senior Raquel Mulakandov shares her reasons for joining and staying in the club: “I joined Science Olympiad because I’ve never seen a community so passionate about science and I wanted to be a part of that community. Although I’ve spent many long nights just because of [SciOly], what urged me to continue was the close friends I was able to make and the sense of family I got with the other members of SciOly.”

Photo courtesy of Lauren Jun, News Editor