Science Olympiad wins regional competition, heads to states

Addie McNamara and Emma Chiu

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The Palo Alto High School Science Olympiad team is preparing for the Northern California state competition, having won the regional competition on March 14.

While in past years the team’s margin of victory at the regional level has been bigger, this year the competition was tighter, according to co-captains junior Ken Chen and senior Annie Chen.

“We usually get first but this year was a lot closer than we hoped it to be,” Ken Chen said. “Last year we had a really clear 80 or 90 point margin, which is really big. The lowest score wins [and] this year we only got 12 points less than the second place team so we were quite worried.”

Still, Ken Chen said he is proud of the results and the efforts that the team made.

“I think everyone worked really well overall,” Ken Chen said. “You can’t base this on results alone because there are a lot of competitions that people actually study for and what actually happens in the competition might not go as expected.”

Since the team of 15 people placed in the top four at the regional level, it will compete in the state competition for Northern California, which will take place April 12 in Turlock, Calif., according to the tournament’s website.

According to Annie Chen, there is not much for the team to do to prepare for the state tournament other than increasing the frequency of practices and the motivation of the team members.

“I don’t think there really is much that we can change but I’m hoping that we can have more study meetings and engineering meetings,” Annie Chen said. “Before regionals about every week we had a meeting Saturday or Sunday or both days, and now we still have weekend meetings but hopefully closer to states we’ll have meetings on Thursdays and Fridays as well. I’m hoping that people will be more motivated because we only have less than three weeks until states. We have to trust in the team that we made that they’ll study more.”

The date of the state competition falls on the same day as Paly’s Prom, to be held at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. According to Annie Chen, the team has devised a way to attend both the competition and Prom.

“Unfortunately prom is the same day as the SciOly states but fortunately it [the state competition] is in Northern California … so it’s only an hour or two from where Prom is,” Annie Chen said. “After the awards ceremony, which will hopefully end at 5 [p.m.] or so, we can have a parent … drive us to prom as long as we notify him [Associated Student Body Director Matthew Hall] ahead of time and if we get breathalyzed then we’re good.”

If the team wins the state competition, it will move on to compete in the national tournament in July.