Palo Alto High School’s Science Olympiad team looks to win the North California Science Olympiad State competition after taking first at the Santa Clara Regional Science Olympiad competition on March 19 in San Jose.
This first place win continues a seven-year streak, according to sophomore Chloe Hong. With this win, Paly’s SciOly team will be advancing to the state competition on April 16 in Turlock to compete for a place at Science Olympiad National Tournament.
This year, the team won by a margin of seven points, according to Hong, a member of Paly’s green team. The SciOly competition is split into two teams, green team, which is akin to a varsity team, and white team, or the junior varsity team. This slim margin came as a surprise to the team, who in the past, had been the undisputed winner of regionals.
“It is not that we got worse, per se, it is just that the other teams have been working harder,” SciOly adviser Ron Bowditch said. “We can see that the competition has gotten much more intense.”
According to senior team captain James Wang, there were some complications during some events.
“During the competition, someone stepped on one of our engineering builds and there was a mishap that almost disqualified us in an event,” Wang said. “Our team remained supportive and optimistic.”
The team plans to take this close win as a wake up call and continue studying and preparing for states
“We will just prepare as we usually do,” Hong said. “But now we are a lot more aware of the competition we have to face, and we will have to work harder.”
Bowditch echoes these sentiments, stating that competition at States will be extremely tough and competitive.
For the past few years, Paly SciOly has finished second at states, each time placing after Mira Loma High School from Sacramento. According to Hong, the only time Paly received first at states was in 2013, breaking Paly’s three-year streak of second-place wins. At Nationals, the team went on to place 16th out of 60 teams.
However, team members do not think that this close call at the regional competition will affect the way the club is run.
“We do not want our club to become inorganic and rigidly structured, because at the core we are still a 100% student-run and student-established club,” Hong said. “As always we are a community and we will always have fun.”