Science Olympiad Prepares for States

On February 7, HBA’s middle and high school Science Olympiad teams entered the Windward Oahu Science Olympiad Regional Tournament.

The middle school team competed in Division B and won third place overall while the high school team took second place in Division C.

The Science Olympiad is a nationwide science tournament where schools compete in specific challenges for prizes. According to the official Hawaii State Science Olympiad website, the organization’s goal is to instill an interest towards science, teach cooperative teamwork skills, and prove that “Hawaii can perform at levels that surpasses expectations of even practicing scientists and engineers.”

In order to find qualifying schools for the States Tournament, about half of Oahu schools competed at the Windward Tournament. Each school participates in several science-based events testing competitors’ knowledge of major fields of science such as physics, biology, and forensics. Points are awarded based on placings, with first receiving 1 point, second receiving 2, and so on. The team with the least number of points wins. Preparation, study, and hands-on skills are key to ensuring victory.

Physics teacher Andrew Vitek is head coach of HBA’s high school team. “As a coach, my main job is recruiting and motivating students,” he said. “It can be hard to find students who want to participate in a particular event.  For example, it can be difficult to find students who are passionate about entomology (the study of bugs) or geological mapping, two events at this year’s state finals.”

The team practiced for months leading up to the competition and met as the Science Olympiad Club. “The [Science Olympiad] club is a time of preparation for the events,” said senior Jonathan Hayashi. “Students focus on studying and possibly building for the events.”

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We went in pretty unprepared, but I went in just wanting to have fun with it.”

Senior Rylie Wada

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Senior Rylie Wada recalled winning an event with little time to get ready. “In the Regional Competition, [senior] Jana Sasaki and I won first place for Geological Mapping,” she said. “It was honestly really surprising because we both had been thrown into that event the week of the competition and hadn’t had much time to study. We went in pretty unprepared, but I went in just wanting to have fun with it.”

During the tournament, HBA’s middle school team (grades 7-9) competed with nine other schools in the regionals. They came in third behind La Pietra and Homeschoolers of Older Children, who placed second and first respectively, and medalled in four events. Meanwhile, the high school team (grades 10-12) was one out of ten schools in their division. Though they were second only to McKinley High School, they took home medals for eight events, most notably in the Air Trajectory (building a contraption to shoot a projectile), Write-It-Do-It (where one student describes a specific contraption while another attempts to build said contraption using only the description), and several other building events.

Both teams are set to compete in the State Finals Tournament on March 14 at Leeward Community College. After taking third place during States last year behind Iolani and Mililani, the team is ready to make a comeback this year. “I hope that the team comes in well prepared and enjoys the experience they have with one another,” Vitek said. “I hope that [Science Olympiad] is something they remember many years from now.”

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