Nothing will discourage the Science Olympiad team this season

From Rachel Toole's The Central Trend Feature Science Olympiad continues to excel, securing a spot at states.

From Rachel Toole’s The Central Trend Feature Science Olympiad continues to excel, securing a spot at states.

Strength and perseverance are qualities junior Brian Travis continues to embrace as times get harder–specifically with his involvement in Science Olympiad. A member of the team since middle school, now more than ever, Brian truly appreciates the familial aspect that has never wavered throughout the years.

“[My favorite part] would be the family atmosphere,” Brian said, “especially when we compete. Competitions are really fun [when you are around your teammates].”

Brian was a tad apprehensive at the beginning of the year; he thought that with the current conditions worsening, the season was not going to be as enjoyable. Although every sport and school club season looks different right now, the few virtual meetings he has attended have sparked some excitement as he remembers what past years were like. 

“2 years ago, my freshman year, the juniors and seniors were really good at Science Olympiad, but they were [also] friendly and inclusive,” said Brian, reminiscing over the good memories. “Getting lost on college campuses with them was just too much fun.” 

Science Olympiad is a team made up of students that compete in a series of events regarding science and engineering topics—ranging from fossils to ornithology to forensics. There are 3 divisions: Division A is for students in kindergarten through sixth grade, Division B is for students in sixth through ninth grade, and Division C is for high schoolers. Division B can either compete in their division or can compete in Division C, as long as they meet the requirements.

“[Competition day] starts off with everybody waking up at 5 am, which isn’t ideal,” Brian starts. “[Also, some people are] printing off last-minute things after procrastinating. [We get to the school] pretty tired, and usually take a bus out to a high school if it is an invitational. For real competitions, [we take the bus] to a college campus. There are 5 time-slots for events and you follow the schedule [throughout the day], so it is almost like school. [Next,] you do the short tests that the events consist of, then, we have lunch or dinner together depending on how long the competition lasts. [After all of that], we take the bus back.” 

In past years, students involved would compete against other high school students in Michigan. Due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, the weekly meetings and competitions will be held virtually.

This year marks Joslyn Burnaby’s second year as the Science Olympiad coach. Burnaby is also a biology and forensics teacher at FHC.

“[With] working through zoom, not being able to meet [as a group], and not knowing what the competitions look like, there’s just too many [unknown factors],” said Burnaby. “We don’t know what these competitions are going to be like. It’s so different because, [before], we were always together helping each other [face to face].”

Burnaby mentioned that the building part of the competition could, potentially, be held at school. There would be assigned times that students could go in and complete their given tasks. But with the season still up in the air, that may not be possible. 

Despite the uncertainties, Burnaby is looking forward to working with the team and overseeing their growth and progress, which will undoubtedly happen no matter the circumstances.

I’m looking forward to the little steps [and] little advancements.”

— Joslyn Burnaby

“[I’m excited] to see the team’s growth, especially the freshman,” Burnaby said. “I’m looking forward to the little steps [and] little advancements. I would like to be able to be in small groups with [parts of] the team.”

This year, there are new Trial Events. Each year, Science Olympiad demos a few events to see if it is something they, as an organization, would like to do in upcoming years. The trial events have to run successfully in at least 5 states before becoming an event. Some of 2021’s Trial Events include Environmental Chemistry, Robot Tour, and Codebusters. The full list of this season’s Trial Events is listed in the official Science Olympiad Rule Manual. 

If you’re not into science, this is a good way to immerse yourself in different topics.”

— Annika Santos

With the new events, new teammates, and an overall optimistic mindset, members of Science Olympiad, no matter the circumstances of this year, are looking forward to just spending time with each other–whether that is over Zoom or six-feet apart. Senior Annika Santos, particularly, shares Brian’s mindset in which they both wholeheartedly love the team aspect.

Annika has been a member of the Science Olympiad team for 5 years now, and after all that time on the team, she can’t quite pinpoint a favorite event, but does favor the science-based events.

Although the season hasn’t truly started, she is trying to stay optimistic.

“[One of my favorite parts is] the variety of events you can be in,” said Annika. “It doesn’t matter what kind of science you’re into, there’s always going to be something for you. If you’re not into science, this is a good way to immerse yourself in different topics.”