HMS Science Olympiad Team Heads to State Competition

Photo by Zane Hill / OUTLOOK The Huntington Middle School Science Olympiad Team placed first in this year’s county regional competition and will enter the state competition in April. The team includes Nora Chang (front row, from left), Bethany Ang, adviser Cynthia Wong, adviser Suzanne Nitta, Olivia Wang, Aparna Venkat and Leo Feng. Back: Sean Killackey, Sebastian Liong, Elsa  Panning, Katie Lui, Lillian Panning, Sophia An, Audrey Jung, Helena Wu, Aaron Ong, Berwyn Phan and coach David Zheng.
Photo by Zane Hill / OUTLOOK
The Huntington Middle School Science Olympiad Team placed first in this year’s county regional competition and will enter the state competition in April. The team includes Nora Chang (front row, from left), Bethany Ang, adviser Cynthia Wong, adviser Suzanne Nitta, Olivia Wang, Aparna Venkat and Leo Feng. Back: Sean Killackey, Sebastian Liong, Elsa
Panning, Katie Lui, Lillian Panning, Sophia An, Audrey Jung, Helena Wu, Aaron Ong, Berwyn Phan and coach David Zheng.

After securing nine first-place medals, seven second-place medals and five third-place medals, the Huntington Middle School Science Olympiad Team has advanced from the Los Angeles County Regional competition as the first-place team this season.
The team will travel down the road to nearby Caltech on April 6 to participate in the state competition. The 15-member team traveled to Antelope Valley College on Jan. 26 to compete with 18 other teams, with all 15 members placing in at least one of their events.
Suzanne Nitta, an HMS science teacher who co-advises the team with colleague Cynthia Wong, credited the students on the team for their aptitude and enthusiasm in their events and specially acknowledged their team coach David Zheng, a 2013 San Marino High School graduate currently enrolled at Caltech, for helping to guide a mostly new team to victory.
“It’s a whole new team pretty much,” Nitta said. “There are only three returnees out of 15 kids. For him to take a whole new team and get first place again, that’s just David. He’s got a talent for it. He’ll yell at the kids all day and they love him.”
Science Olympiad is an educational nonprofit that promotes extracurricular interests in the sciences through interscholastic competitions throughout the year. HMS formed a team three years ago, finishing a surprise second place in its inaugural regional competition and improving to first place the following year.
Event topics vary from electrical circuitry, anatomy and physiology, various applications of chemistry, forensic sciences and meteorology, among others.
“I enjoy testing because it’s when you get to put everything you’ve learned into practice,” said 8th-grader Audrey Jung. “You get to work with your partners and it was fun because we had good results.”
One of the consistent reasons the students said they joined Science Olympiad for is that it went beyond the usual topics covered in the typical science curriculum.
“It was a challenge at first, but it was good working with other people who encouraged you when you were struggling in events,” said 8th-grader Sophia An. “The topics are much more in-depth and specific, and we get to use different resources.”
“I didn’t really care about what events I got because I just wanted to learn things that aren’t in the school curriculum,” added 8th-grader Helena Wu. “That was the main goal.”
The competitions also served as a way for the middle school students to connect with their friends and bond with each other, at the end of the day.
“It was a little tiring, but worth it,” said 8th-grader Nora Chang of the regional competition. “I liked being with my friends, and I liked my events and studying for them.”
“I really love the science teachers and our student coach,” Jung added. “It’s a great place to bond with other students and to learn science for the fun of it.”

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