HMS Science Olympiad Club Looking at State Competition

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someonePrint this page
Photo by Zane Hill / OUTLOOK Members of the Huntington Middle School Science Olympiad team pose with the medals they earned from the regional competition. Angelina Yung (front row, from left), Chelsea An, Sandra Chai, Cynthia Wong, Suzanne Nitta, Felix Chao, Alina Champon and Audrey Jung. Back: Elaine Cheng, Claire Wang, Amelia Kung, Ellen Ma, Alisa Quon, Joey David, Aaron Lee and Victor Charle.
Photo by Zane Hill / OUTLOOK
Members of the Huntington Middle School Science Olympiad team pose with the medals they earned from the regional competition. Angelina Yung (front row, from left), Chelsea An, Sandra Chai, Cynthia Wong, Suzanne Nitta, Felix Chao, Alina Champon and Audrey Jung. Back: Elaine Cheng, Claire Wang, Amelia Kung, Ellen Ma, Alisa Quon, Joey David, Aaron Lee and Victor Charle.

It was nearly a month removed from competition in which Huntington Middle School’s Science Olympiad club collectively placed second at regionals, and the kids were for the first time rocking their medals they had earned.
The accolades included eight first-place medals, two second-place medals and three third-place medals, with medals awarded through sixth place. The students competed with 25 other middle schools in the 31st annual Los Angeles Regional Science Olympiad on Feb. 18 at Antelope Valley College.
There is work to be done, however. Given that this was HMS’ first Science Olympiad team in a decade, the strong finish in the regional competition came as a bit of a surprise and the top finishers now have to prepare for the state competition on April 8 at Caltech.
“I feel like we have a chance,” said Suzanne Nitta, an 8th-grade science teacher who advises the HMS Science Olympiad team.
When Nitta and colleague Cynthia Wong, a 7th-grade science teacher at the school, took the reins for the club this year, they admitted they weren’t sure what would happen as far as student participation or performance.
“When we took it on, we didn’t know anything,” Nitta said. “I didn’t know what to expect. When we found out the results, we just stood there. Then there was a lot of screaming.”
Claire Wang, a 7th-grader who helped to place first in the Dynamic Planet category, said a lot of the regional competition involved her pulling facts about geology and other related topics from her memory.
“Other problems were a little harder because we had to graph answers out,” she added. “It makes me feel like I actually know science.”
Eighth-graders Amelia Kung and Ellen Ma were busy reviewing their topics — anatomy and physiology for Kung and Crime Busters for Ma — on their laptops during the club meeting. The two had prepared extensively for the regional competition and, thus, found it relatively easy.
“Most of the stuff, we didn’t have to use,” Kung said. “I’m assuming with state, we’re going to use it a little more.”
Ma said she anticipates more hands-on competitions for the state competition.
“It’s going to be more complex mixtures,” she said, referencing having to know which chemicals are involved in crime scene analysis. “We’ll have to inspect blood splatters, which we didn’t do at regionals.”
Aaron Lee, a 7th-grader, had to help craft a rubber band-powered plane for the Wright Stuff category and also a wooden tower for the Towers category.
The plane’s competition was judged by how long it maintained flight. Lee said his plane flew 54 seconds, which was enough to win the regional competition, but he already has eyes for improvement in April and is aiming for 3 minutes.
“When we practiced before, it was, like, 1 minute and 50-something seconds,” he said, explaining that an overused rubber band had substantially reduced tension for the regional competition.
The tower, which had been made out of thin wood sticks, also won after supporting a 14.1-kilogram bucket of sand before collapsing. That translates to 31 pounds.
Lee said he remains confident in his design because he knew weight distribution was an issue at regionals. The sand bucket was not centered when it was hooked to the tower, so the weight tilted the bucket and distributed weight unevenly.
“One side of the tower basically shattered,” Lee said, “and the other side was pretty OK.”
Nitta said kids like winning medals and appreciated that this organization emphasizes science aptitude for students. She said the club’s inexperience in its first year and low expectations actually served as an advantage for her students.
“It lowered that anxiety and they did their best,” she explained. “They had a lot of fun with it.”
The Science Olympiad continues at San Marino High School (whose students won their share of awards at regionals as well) and many of the middle school students expect to continue competing in this Olympiad.
“If I have the time,” Wang said. “This is really, really fun, but it takes a lot of time. This is much more fun than school. Everything in here is much more advanced and everyone is funnier.”

Leave a Reply