Science Olympiad places second at state competition

Allison Cowie, Author

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Science Olympiad team captains, senior Annie Chen, junior Ken Chen and senior Grace Lin, pose with the hardware they earned at the regional competition in March. The team earned second place in the Northern California State Championship Saturday. Photo courtesy of Yingjian Chen.

Science Olympiad team captains, senior Annie Chen, junior Ken Chen and senior Grace Lin, pose with the hardware they earned at the regional competition in March. The team earned second place in the Northern California State Championship Saturday. Photo courtesy of Yingjian Chen.

After earning a spot in the state competition with a regional win in March, the Palo Alto High School Science Olympiad team capped off its season Saturday, placing second out of 24 teams, in the Northern California Science Olympiad.

While the team had its sights set on repeating last year’s success by winning and moving on to the national competition, senior captain Grace Lin was proud of her team’s work and expects her teammates to build on this season’s success next year.

“Although we hoped to win, I am very proud of how we performed this year,” Lin said. “We have a young team [with only four seniors on a competition team of 15], so the experience of competing at the States level will be an advantage to all of our returning members next year.”

Junior Max Krawczyk agreed that the team’s youth was an asset to both this year’s success and future accomplishments.

“I think the tournament was a success in a bunch of ways,” Krawczyk said. “We got to train a lot of new members that we added this year and we’ve improved over all from last year. We’ve definitely grown a lot.”

Paly competed impressively against the 24 other teams in attendance, placing in the top five in 17 of 23 distinct events. The team performed particularly well in the areas of chemistry, physics and biology, according to Lin.

“We won in Materials Science [a chemistry/physics lab event], Technical Problem Solving [a chemistry/physics lab event], Entomology [biological identification event], and Anatomy and Physiology [a biological study event],” Lin said. “One of the most satisfying moments was our Mission Possible, a really difficult [and] fickle Rube Goldberg device, placing second after many hours of perfecting all of the energy transitions.”

Even though Paly performed very well to earn its second-place finish, Lin says the team is ready for a rematch with rival Mira Loma High School, which took first place. Before the 2013 competition which the Vikings won, the Mira Loma Matadors had immense success, winning the state championship in each of their previous eight seasons.

Seniors Annie Chen and Grace Lin pose with sophomores Sylvia Targ and Ivy Li before driving to Prom in San Francisco straight from the Northern California Science Olympiad competition in Turlock. Photo courtesy of Nick Quach.

Seniors Annie Chen and Grace Lin pose with sophomores Sylvia Targ and Ivy Li before driving to Prom in San Francisco straight from the Northern California Science Olympiad competition in Turlock. Photo courtesy of Nick Quach.

“Although they [the Matadors] have got another win on their record this year, we’re not planning to let them continue that streak for nearly as long as eight years,” Lin said.

For some of the teammates, Saturday’s competition only marked the first half of that day’s celebrations: many of the second-place finishers went straight from California State University at Stanislaus, where the competition was held, to Paly’s Prom at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

“Having States and Prom on the same day definitely added to the excitement of Prom and will no doubt be a States and a Prom we’ll never forget,” Lin said.

Lin expressed her gratitude to the Paly community for the support it has given the team.

“We greatly appreciate the support we’ve been getting from the school and community,” she said. “I think people often do not know that we compete against and win against teams that are better equipped than we are. We absolutely need this support, and we hope the students, staff and families of Paly will continue supporting the Science Olympiad team.”