Science Olympiad team celebrates win and prepares for regionals


Used with permission of Thanh Nguyen

Aileen Xue

After being run by Science Club in past years, Science Olympiad has become its own club this year. With its recent success at the Tracy High School Science Olympiad Invitational on Jan. 19, Lynbrook Science Olympiad Club is poised to compete at the regional competition in March.

“In previous years the old Science Olympiad team was underperforming because Science Olympiad is such a big program that requires a significant amount of money, time and resources,” said sophomore Michael Zhao, founder and president of Science Olympiad Club. “After looking at the top-performing Science Olympiad teams in our area, I realized that their common indicator of success was having a Science Olympiad Club with its own fundraising and logistical support network independent of the school’s Science Club.”

After discussions with chemistry teacher and former Science Club adviser Lester Leung and the 2017-2018 Science Club officer team, all parties decided it would be in the best interest of Science Olympiad to become a separate club with its own advisers, budget and management.

Under Zhao’s leadership, Science Olympiad Club increased the number of competition teams from one team of 15 people to three teams of 15 people. To make the tryout process more equitable, Zhao devised a test with questions representative of the many Science Olympiad events. Zhao then had applicants list their Science Olympiad experience, as well as their time commitment, to Science Olympiad. Students who do not make any of the three teams are still able to learn from presentations and get familiar with various aspects of Science Olympiad.

“I tried out for science olympiad last year but didn’t end up making the team,” said junior Sunhoo Ahn. “This year, however, they have three teams which provides a lot more opportunities to students like me who want to get involved with Science Olympiad.”

Zhao also worked to find advisers for the club, deciding on physics teacher Thanh Nguyen and biology and chemistry teacher Jessica Lu, who he had his freshman year. The two advisers not only provide students with study resources, such as textbooks and mock tests, but also help with logistics for competitions.

“I decided to advise Science Olympiad Club because I thought it was a really cool opportunity to help students learn more about different avenues of science that they wouldn’t normally get a chance to explore,” Nguyen said.

    This was also the first year that Lynbrook has sent teams to a Science Olympiad invitational. Usually hosted by a top-performing school, invitationals are a way for teams to get a practice run before the regional competition, where teams may qualify for states. Invitational signups are first-come first-serve and the number of teams is limited.

“Because we just became a club this year, we didn’t have quite enough funds to sign up for more invitationals,” Nguyen said. “However, next year, we’re planning on going to at least two, one of which is the Golden Gate Invitational at UC Berkeley. We’ve got that circled for next year since most of the super competitive schools are in attendance.”

At the Tracy Invitational, its first competition as an official club, Lynbrook’s Science Olympiad Club performed well, with Team A and Team B placing first and second respectively out of 31 schools. Members competed in either pairs or triplets in the 23 events offered, which were categorized as either a study, lab or build event and covered topics ranging from epidemiology to earth science. Lynbrook placed in the top three in 13 of the events, winning six gold medals, five silver medals and four bronze medals. Each team’s individual event scores are added up, resulting in the overall team scores.

“I loved seeing the shock on the students’ faces when they realized they took home both first and second place,” Nguyen said. “It was really nice seeing all their hard work and dedication pay off.”

For first year Science Olympiad participant Ahn, the Tracy Invitational was a learning process. A member of Team B, Ahn participated in three events —Code Busters, Circuit Lab and Fermi Questions — placing fourth and fifth in Code Busters and Circuit Lab respectively.

“Due to my interest in science, in particular engineering, I’ve always wanted to participate in science competitions,” Ahn said. “While it was initially difficult to distribute the work among team members, we eventually got the hang of it and ultimately performed well at Tracy.”

With the regional competition on March 16 at San Jose City College, Science Olympiad Club has been continuing with its rigorous preparation. While only two of Lynbrook’s Science Olympiad teams competed at the Tracy Invitational due to the two team limit, Science Olympiad Club plans to send all three of its teams to the regional competition.

“We’ll definitely be studying a lot more and reviewing our tests from Tracy,” said sophomore and Team A member Flora Huang, who participated in Dynamic Planet, Geologic Mapping and Protein Modeling. “We’ll also take more practice tests and edit our reference sheets.”

    As Science Olympiad Club relishes in its recent success and prepares for regionals, it is also dreaming bigger, hoping to get even more student involvement and ultimately become one of the strongest teams in the state, if not the nation.