HMS Takes First Place in Science Olympiad

The second year for Huntington Middle School’s Science Olympiad team is proving successful, with the team recently sweeping its way to first place in the regional competition on Feb. 17.
The team now looks to make a splash at the upcoming state competition at Caltech in April. This year’s finish was an improvement over last year’s second-place finish at the Antelope Valley Regionals, which was a pleasant surprise for the then-inaugural team as it rode the bus back home. (Weather had canceled the award ceremony.)
“We have a lot of new members on the team this year, so I think it was a good experience for them to actually be at the award ceremony and everything this year,” said Cynthia Wong, one of the faculty advisers of the team.
Team members took first place in nine of the individual competitions this year: Anatomy and Physiology; Experimental Design; Fast Facts; Herpetology; Meteorology; Optics; Rock and Minerals; Towers; and Wright Stuff. Competitions all involve a written testing portion and some also include practical experiments and tests as well.
For the Optics competition, Srinivasan Arumugham, an 8th-grader, said he had to mathematically calculate how to angle several mirrors to reflect a laser pointer onto a target within 4 minutes. He had only one chance to align the mirrors before turning on the pointer, and nearly hit a bullseye.
“We were basically right on target,” he said. “I was actually surprised. I thought it would be one centimeter off. The last competition, we were 12 millimeters off and that was with more accurate measuring materials.”
Arumugham, who also competed in Hovercraft, Dynamic Planet and Battery Buggy, said he hoped to help bring his team past the state competition and reach nationals, something the team did not achieve last year.
“This year, we’re going to try our best,” he said.
Olivia Wang, a 7th-grader who won both in Meteorology and in Rocks and Minerals, said she enjoyed the regional competition, which included nearly 30 total schools.
“It was pretty cool to meet other people, and we also saw some friends from other schools,” she said.
Wang said she joined the team as a way to keep learning about science-related topics outside of the classroom.
“I thought it would be interesting and my friend was also in the club,” she said. “You get to self-learn and explore by yourself without teachers telling you what to do.”
Arumugham concurred with that sentiment.
“It’s much more intense,” he said. “It’s fun because you get to learn a lot of new things and it helps give you a new perspective on science. Especially with the competition, it just makes everything a little more fun.”
Helping out with the team is David Zheng, a San Marino High School Class of ’17 graduate and electrical engineering freshman at Caltech. Zheng served as captain of the SMHS Science Olympiad team and holds the same role with the HMS team, assigning each member to a category that suits their strengths.
“It teaches you about science you don’t learn at school, and you get to bond as a family,” he said. “They’re all really smart and it’s nice to see there are people who are fond of and still interested in the sciences.”

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