Science Olympiad team celebrates win at virtual competition

Arohi Bhattacharya, Senior Staff Writer

Members of the Science Olympiad team at Palo Alto High School are touting their pre-game preparations for a first place victory last month at its first virtual Transcontinental Invitational, setting the stage for what they hope will be a promising semester.

The Paly SciOly Club’s second team, the White team, placed ninth out of 85 teams from 12 states at the competition on Nov. 21.

The Green and White teams of Palo Alto High School’s Science Olympiad await the results of its virtual Transcontinental Invitational competition via Zoom on Dec. 6. SciOly Club co-captain and senior Hannah Zhou said the zoom meetings the team had in preparation helped with members’ collaboration for the event. “They [the meetings] are definitely helpful because they add to team spirit, allow for partners to get to know each other better, and help increase our overall knowledge,” Zhou stated in an email to The Paly Voice. Photo: Hannah Zhou
Co-captain and senior Evan Huang said that in the month leading up to the invitational, the team held remote practice competitions and remote weekly study meetings to familiarize themselves with the online format for future invitationals.

For example, there’s no need to print out notes now, and hands-on aspects of competition such as lab work and building machines have to be recorded and sent to competition supervisors,” Huang stated in a message to The Paly Voice.

Co-captain and senior Hannah Zhou said that adjusting all the components of SciOly was very challenging in the beginning, but that the team slowly got used to it.

“Adjusting SciOly to a virtual format this year was definitely difficult at first, especially moving our tryouts online as we normally print out hundreds of physical tests for prospective members to take,” Zhou stated. “We also couldn’t run lab or engineering events which was pretty sad because those are usually pretty fun and members actually get to have hands-on experience.”

Zhou said now that SciOly has found its rhythm, it likely won’t need to make any drastic changes for the second semester.

“Since we have already moved all of our meetings online, we probably won’t be making any other major adjustments,” Zhou stated. “Now that we have more experience competing online, we will make sure our team reviews their old tests and practices typing/saving responses.” 

However, co-captain and junior April Wu said its first official competition of the season came with some obstacles and technical difficulties.

“Some tests weren’t saving properly or people were unable to take their tests,” Wu stated. “The grading of tests also had a few issues but overall, it was well run and the competition organizers worked quickly to help resolve our problems.”

All of SciOly’s invitationals, including its upcoming five, are in preparation for the team’s regional and state competitions, which will be held virtually in March 2021.