This marks the ninth year the Hopkins team has qualifed for Nationals since the program began in 2009. With an impressive record of winning the state competition nine out of ten years, Hopkins “SciOly” members have continuously shown their dedication and ability to engage in the felds of Science and Engineering.
The Science Olympiad is a nationwide competition in which students compete in twenty-three events that are rotated to refect a wide spectrum of scientifc felds, including genetics, anatomy, mechanical engineering, geology and others. Priscilla Encarnação, one of the three Science Department coaches, noted that, “By combining events from all disciplines, the Science Olympiad encourages a wide cross-section of students to get involved.”
Math teacher Michael Gold ’10, a SciOly coach, was a member of the inaugural Hopkins SciOly in 2009. Returning to Hopkins as both a teacher and SciOly mentor, Gold remarked on how the team has changed: “Now the program is much bigger... this year and every year since coming back as a teacher, it has been a really big program with multiple teams... The size and the scope of the program has changed for the better.” He added that, “the level of competition has also changed; it’s much more competitive now that more and more schools are interested in competing in the program.”
What has enabled the success of the Hopkins SciOly team? Burton Lyng-Olsen ’20, who competed in Experimental Design, Game On, and Hovercraft portions of this year’s competitions explained, “The secret to Hopkins’ success in the past and present is simply that the team is made up of smart kids who are willing to work diligently, even late at night.” Ryan Viores ’18, an active member of the Hop SciOly program for the past two years stated, “In my opinion, the reason we do so well is because we are committed to winning and everyone feels that if they slack off and don’t do well in their events, they are letting the team down.”
Both Gold and Encarnação emphasized the “strength, motivation, and excitement of the students” that feed the team’s ability to achieve success in projects and events. Gold considered what made the team capable to compete at a national level year after year attributing the team’s success to the “wealth of the experience that we have and older team members helping newer team members.” Encarnação discussed how the “carry over from the previous team” plays a large role in ingraining the hard work mentality. “There is always a previous group of kids that have gone to Nationals and wants to go back, and that’s the biggest motivator,” she explained. With around six seniors leaving every year, nine members of the national competition team are left to carry over the science spirit onto the incoming kids.
With all this success, there comes a price. Leading up to competitions, students spend hours preparing for their events. Viores refected on the team’s work ethic: “In the weeks before a competition I never have a free period that I don’t spend in that room.” Parker Connolly ‘20, described the amount of time outside of school he devoted to his preparations: “I’ll give up some B-block frees to test my mousetrap car, or I’ll spend half an hour studying cryptography, or make a quick ten-minute example code in Scratch for Game On. The test events always need more studying!”
The SciOly students’ hard work paid off at this year’s state competition held at the University of Connecticut on April 7, where Hopkins brought the frst place trophy home along with thirteen other medals. Building on the momentum of this success, a team comprised of fifteen students represented all of Connecticut at Nationals in May. The SciOly team faced off against the strongest teams in the nations, schools that often have special classes devoted to Science Olympiad. Hopkins competed respectably, placing thirty-eighth. A few Hopkins students achieved noteworthy success such as the seventh-place finish in Dynamic Planet and twelfth-place fnishin Remote Sensing. Viores refected on his experience of the elite competition: “Nationals is a really great opportunity to meet similar kids from all over the country.”
The hours poured into preparing for the competitions do not only pay off in material success. Hop SciOly members remarked how rewarding it is to be a part of the program. “The greatest take away that I’ve had from SciOly” Lyng-Olsen stated, “is to be persistent and flexible when things don’t always go as you plan.” SciOly helps Srivastava to “think critically on the spot during timed events.” Viores explained what he has learned from his SciOly team experience: “I think that one of the biggest lessons that SciOly has taught me is that in science, nothing works on the frst try. Ever.” Whether it be late night studying and preparing for the written events, or spending countless free periods in the “build-room,” the SciOly team worked hard to earn its spot at nationals. At Hopkins SciOly, however, hard work and a good time come hand in hand as Viores refected, “We are just looking to do our best and to have fun.”