Science Olympiad team accelerates to the top

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After long hours spent perfecting their robotic arm, late nights spent memorizing types of trees, and endless amounts of effort put into understanding diseases, the Science Olympiad team has achieved the ultimate prize: a trophy at Regionals.

On February 2, Townsend Harris took first place at the New York City Regional Science Olympiad Competition at Grover Cleveland High School, after coming in third last year. Three teams represented the school, each composed of fifteen members. One team placed first, another seventh, and the third came in eleventh.  They received a total of 32 medals.

Nimrod Gozum, junior, said, “We were able to leave with our heads held high knowing that we are the best in the city.”

Senior and Science Olympiad club president Malavika Attur said that because it was her last year on the team she had “an even greater reason to want to do really well and get first place.”

At the daylong competition, students worked in groups of two or three. Some events required them to take an exam, design an experiment or test their previously built designs. Events tested all branches of science including forensics, chemistry, engineering, earth science and environmental science.

The preparation for the competition was filled with many all night study sessions, and study groups at Barnes and Nobles mere weeks before the competition. Olympians competing in the forestry event could be spotted flipping through field-guides, memorizing different species of trees; those competing in the rocks and minerals event closely studied charts and diagrams, knowing that small structural details could make a huge difference between an igneous and a sedimentary rock.

“It was definitely a lot of work. I had to study a lot but in the end it was all worth it,” said Musfera Khan, sophomore.

Regardless of the amount of hours spent studying, students realized that every part of the material could not be covered.

“When you are there you are anxious,” said junior Demeara Torres, “I saw kids who were in my events and I was like ‘Oh my God I don’t know what they’re talking about!’”

The nerves during the competition and the awards presentation morphed into excitement after the team’s win was announced.

This was the first time since 2009 that a Science Olympiad team won first place at the city championship, having won only twice in the past. “The competition is always stiff at the top,” said advisor Mr. Sangiorgi. “The team was more prepared and worked as a cohesive team to dominate.”

With this victory in their pocket, fifteen members will be chosen from the three teams to represent THHS at the state competition from April 12-13 in Syracuse, New York. With the stress of regionals behind them, Maria Mo, junior, said that before she can think about next year’s competition, she will just “focus on states.”

The state competition will be a challenge as the fifty-five best teams from 11 New York State regions will come to compete. Last year the THHS team finished in 16th place, an all time high, but this year they are looking to beat that record.

The team does feel optimistic towards the state competition. “I think we have a pretty good chance at states. We proved to be the best nerds in the city,”  said Demeara.

Freshman Jasmine Vrite enjoyed her first year of Science Olympiad citing the family-like community and the  feeling of accomplishment. As a freshman she will not be placed on the state team, but she has the utmost confidence in her teammates: “We can kick some butt at states! We have some very dedicated people in the club.”  

Mr. Sangiorgi feels nothing short of inspired by the passion evident in his team: “I am very motivated by everyone, and their enthusiasm for science and this competition has motivated me to coach them. This team really touched my heart and I am proud of them all.”

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