SciOly sets school record at states

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The SciOly team with their medals.

On March 14 and March 15 in Uniondale, Long Island, the Townsend Harris Science Olympiad team broke a school record when it notched a 9th place finish at the Science Olympiad States Competition. The team medalled in 8 different events, also a school record, including a second place finish in Disease Detectives and third for Food Chemistry.

The team consisted of 15 competitors, 6 helpers and science teachers Thomas Sangiorgi and Sarah Oberlander. The competition consisted of various events where competitors demonstrated their knowledge in a certain field of science. Many events, such as the Elastic Launch Glider, involve building a competitive device. Some, such as Technical Problem Solving, involve performing experimental tasks in a lab setting. Others, such as entomology, consist solely of a test. The team’s standing was determined by the sum of its rank in each individual event, meaning that a lower sum garnered a higher overall standing.

Coming off a 9th place finish against national teams at Yale, the Science Olympiad team brought with it an impressive track record and a desire to accomplish something unprecedented. However, it knew that its road to glory would be far from simple.

Disease Detective medalist senior Maria Mo recalled, “We usually always do well in regionals but ironically, the 2nd place finish at regionals [in her event] that was supposed to give us the momentum for states was actually what humbled us. We knew how tough the competition is at states. States is a whole different monster. Winning second only meant we couldn’t let our guards down at all.”

Senior Thomas Sullivan, who competed in four different events, commented, “We prepared for this competition more so than any others, because we’re versing teams who are best in the state and often in the nation. I was doing about an average of 5 hours of SciOly studying a day.”

Junior Neil Chen also participated in 4 events. He and sophomore Cindy Lin won a 9th place medal in the Elastic Launch Glider event. He reflects, “We spent time preparing during almost all of our lunch bands and after school. This year was definitely the most intense SciOly season I have competed in.”

Many of the team members have been participating in SciOly competitions for a few years, with high degrees of success. However, this years Science Olympiad competitions marked the addition of two new events, Food Chemistry and Entomology. The Harris Olympiad team performed well in both, garnering 10th in Entomology in addition to its third place berth in Food Chemistry.

Junior Katie Wu, a first year member who had a hat trick at the states competition, took on the challenge of tackling Entomology, the study of insects. Although this was the first time competing in this topic, she described the entire process as worthwhile, saying, “I chose events that I thought I would be able to apply to my everyday life and interests. Doing the Entomology event let me see preserved specimens of insects that I would not have been able to see normally, so that was a really great experience.”

The team also placed 5th in Dynamic Planet, 5th in Material Science, 5th in Water Quality, and 8th in Technical Problem Solving.

Additionally, junior Saloni Vishwakarma took home the award for Best Tee-Shirt Design. Regarding her individual distinction, Saloni commented, “I was really surprised when I received the news. But it’s a great feeling to have the best tee-shirt in the state, especially when so much hard work went into it.”

Overall, the team was satisfied, as its record breaking performance was definitely a reason to celebrate. Junior Shirley Lin, who won a medal in Material Science, exclaimed, “We were ecstatic about our 9th place finish, breaking top 10 for the first time ever!”

Sophomore Cindy Lin, another three medal winner, added, “We definitely couldn’t have accomplished what we did without our cohesiveness and enthusiasm. We worked together and were so dedicated about what we did. It really felt great to have it all pay off.”

The departing seniors felt the the same way about the finish. Maria mentioned, “This is my first and last time winning a states medal. I know that I’m investing in what I love doing and that’s why it’s been worth all the blood, sweat, tears, and consecutive sleepless nights.”

Thomas added, “We killed it. That was the best team we’ve ever assembled, hands down.”

With the major competitions of the season completed, the team looks forward to its annual culminating event, Model Rocketry Club. However, the team members are already gearing up for an even better performance next year. Shirley stated, “Science Olympiad is never over. Pretty soon will be next years Invitational, Regionals and States.”