Science Olympiad Starts State Streak

After five months of preparation and work was finally judged at Johns Hopkins University on March 28, junior Tom Mou, Co-President of the Science Olympiad team, bit his nails as the final scores for each event were posted.

With River Hill High School and Centennial High School of Howard County matching them toe to toe on each event, Mou and the rest of the team couldn’t help but jump with joy the moment when Walter Johnson was announced the victor placing first and was crowned State Champions for the second consecutive year at the Maryland Science Olympiad State Tournament.

“We were ecstatic that we were able to repeat our performance,” said Mou. “It was a team effort and every point we earned was crucial.”

WJ finished first with 69 points, Centennial finished second with 82 points and River Hill finished third with 82 points as Centennial won in a tie-breaker. The team with the lowest possible score wins, and they compete in 23 different events encompassing five broad categories: life science, physical science, chemistry, technology and the nature of science. Eight different schools participated at the tournament.

“It was harder because [senior] Re-I [Co-President] was not at the tournament,” he said. “She was a big contributor to the team.”

Members must organize and conduct experiments on their own before presenting their experiments at the competition. Usually, members work in pairs for each event. Through a process of repeatedly designing experiments, testing them, and discussing ways to maximize output students must undergo a lot of preparation before competition.

“We also do a lot of outside research ourselves,” Mou said. “[We use] online sources, but sometimes use college-level textbooks too.”

In one event, called “Picture This,” team members take turns drawing representations of a set of scientific terms or concepts while another team member guesses the term being drawn.

“People who participate in it come together to practice communicating their drawings,” said Mou. “It’s just the team members working together and working out any symbols or any ways to facilitate the guessing process since we only have four minutes.”

The team competes at the national competition held at Augusta State University in late May. The team ranked 51 out of 61 teams last year.

Meanwhile, the team is setting up another Science Olympiad team at North Bethesda Middle School to act as a feeder school so that the high school team will remain strong with experienced new members.

“North Bethesda will help students built interest and provide experience to students so they can continue in high school and help us maintain our winning tradition,” said Mou.

Science Olympiad provides students with an opportunity to learn more than just classroom textbooks can teach.

“I joined Science Olympiad because I wanted another perspective of science, something that was more hands on,” said Michelle She, a freshman member of the team.