Science Olympiad goes to national competition

St. Martin’s Episcopal School offers Science Olympiad to middle and upper school students who wish to challenge themselves in a rigorous extracurricular activity. This year, the high school team dominated at both regional and state competitions, allowing them to attend the national competition in May for the first time in our school’s history.

“Last year, the team was one point away from winning state and getting to nationals,” said Sophomore Lainey Pickens. “We got second by one point. That really motivated us because only the first place team in the state of Louisiana goes to nationals. Baton Rouge Magnet High School has won every year except one since 1997 and, last year, they beat us by only one point to win state. We were motivated to study more and test our building events more, and this year at state, we won by 13 points.”

The club welcomes any student who is interested in expanding upon their science knowledge. Each year, students choose from topics ranging from rocks and minerals to invasive species to disease detection and prepare their events for competitions, according to Pickens.

The culmination of the club is when the team heads to tournaments to compete in the subjects they have studied for all year. Typical yearly competitions include regionals and state. This year, the team won both the regionals and state competitions, allowing them to advance to the national competition at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

“Basically, it’s a tournament where a team of 15 students goes and competes in 23 different events,” said Junior Co-Captain Chloe Bartholomew. “It contains a wide variety of events like memorizing, building, and lab events.”

In preparation for these important competitions, students must spend ample hours of their own time studying and practicing for their respective events. Because the preparation begins in the fall, Lind says it's sometimes difficult for students to stay focused over the course of the year.

“The burden is on them,” said Middle School Science Teacher and Science Olympiad Coach Warren Lind. “They have to find time to prepare a lot on their own. My job is to provide the resources and guidance, to encourage, push, and keep them focused and moving forward.”

Lind has run the Science Olympiad program off and on for 20 years, serving as a dedicated mentor and coach to his team members.

“He always encourages us to do our best,” Bartholomew said. “He holds Saturday work sessions, even though he’s really busy. He is always there with us at all the tournaments. And, this year, we also went to an invitational tournament, and he drove the bus for fifteen hours to get us there. He’s really committed, and I think that’s inspiring for the rest of our team.”

The victory at the state competition has been long-awaited for the team, as most members of the team have been in Science Olympiad since middle school.

"It was really awesome because most of the people on our team have been wanting to win state for the past three years," Bartholomew said.

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