Science Olympiad prepares for regional tournament

    Senior Nathan Kau works on his robotic arm in preparation for the Santa Clara County regional tournament for Science Olympiad this weekend. The Palo Alto High School Science Olympiad team needs to place in the top four in order to advance to the state competition. Photo by Chirag Akella.

    Senior Nathan Kau works on a robotic arm in preparation for the Santa Clara County regional tournament this weekend. The Palo Alto High School Science Olympiad team has been preparing a lot in recent weeks in order to advance to states. Photo by Chirag Akella.

    The Palo Alto High School Science Olympiad team is preparing for the Santa Clara County regional tournament this Saturday at San Jose City College.

    According to senior captain James Wang, the team needs to get in the top four at the tournament in order to advance to the state and, possibly, the national tournament.

    Wang said that the winner of the Science Olympiad tournament is dependent on the aggregate performance of the team in individual events.

    “An analogy that we like to use to describe SciOly [Science Olympiad] is that it’s like track and field, except for science,” he said. “During competitions, individual competitors take exams on varying fields of science and compete in engineering events against other teams and, at the end, the team with the best overall score wins.”

    Sophomore Celine Wang added that the goal is to get the fewest points possible as first place counts as one point, second place counts as two points and so on. The team with fewest points at the end of the tournament will advance.

    James Wang highlighted the difficulty and importance of the state tournament.

    “States is the most important tournament of the year for us because we go against our longtime rival Mira Loma [High School],” he said. “We have gotten second for the past two years and you need to get first to go to nationals. We have lost by a small margin, but this year we are hopeful that we can get first place in states and advance to nationals.”

    James Wang also said that the team is poised for success this year and expects the team to do well based on results from past years.

    “Our team is looking pretty strong,” he said. “We expect to win the regional competition this month and qualify for states as we have done every year for the past decade or so. I also think we have a good chance at defeating our rival, Mira Loma, at states and qualifying for nationals this year.”

    Junior Alice Zhang said that the team is using its past success as well as its defeats to to Mira Loma as motivation.

    “Because our team always makes such a strong showing at regionals, there is a lot of pressure on us to do well,” Zhang said. “The pressure motivates us more than deters us, though, and I think we’ll do amazing. Each year, we work extremely hard leading up to the state competition to prepare ourselves as best we can so that we are confident competing against Mira Loma and the other teams there.”

    Sophomore Celine Wang echoed Zhang’s sentiments and said that the team’s preparations have improved its chances of doing well.

    “Saturday is the first official competition, and so we’ve been preparing all year for it,” she said.

    James Wang said that he hopes that the team can call on its past experiences in order to achieve its goals.

    “I hope that we can learn from our successes and mistakes at regionals so we can win states and, most importantly, dye our hair bright green for nationals,” he said.

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