The cancellation of the 2020 season last year meant the Saline High School Science Olympiad competition team had to pivot to new goals. After a very productive summer of giving back to the community in this time of need and being featured on WXYZ for their efforts, the fall arrived, and the team trained to work in a new virtual setting.
“The entire program had to shift to a virtual setting. Competition is virtual, team meetings are virtual and group meetings are virtual. It was a big change for all of us” Said Nath Akella, Head Coach.
Virtual competitions meant less team interaction and certainly diminished the social aspect of the team but it also allowed the team to compete in locations they had not been to previously.
Saline started the virtual competition season in early October “in” California with the Bear Tournament against nearly 200 other teams. Many were national top 20 teams. Saline took 22nd overall. Several events featured new students, so those students had to put in a lot of extra effort to return their events to the previous years level. Those event teams set several improvement goals for the November Tournament in Palatine Illinois. Saline took a team 5th.
Perhaps the most exciting result so far occurred on December 5th when Saline attended the Northview Tournament, based in Sylvania Ohio. That tournament is typically the first tournament of the season- but this year it was actually Saline’s third. The tournament typically hosts many of the Midwest’s top teams. This year was no different, though many teams participated from other parts of the US.
Saline took first overall at Northview winning with a score of 100. The team won three gold medals- Anatomy and Physiology: Jason Chen/Sahil Thumma, Disease Detectives (Epidemiology): Jason Hu/Sahil Thumma, Water Quality (Environmental): Jason Hu/Josie Cayen.
In addition, the team won Silvers in three events, Codebusters (Cryptography): Jason Chen, Ishaan Mendiratta, Ryan Fischer, Dynamic Planet (Oceanography): Josie Sullivan/Josie Cayen, Write it Cad it: Cj Figueras/Mason Miller. Two bronzes were won. Chemistry Lab: Jason Chen/Deric Dinu Daniel, and Designer Genes: Sahil Thumma and Jason Hu.
In all the team took 15 top 8 placements out of 19 events.
I am really proud of the team, they have worked really hard to switch formats, dealt with a lot of churn from the national program due to late rule changes and late event changes. They have really risen up to this year’s challenge. Akella said.
The team moves on to their next tournaments on January 9th. One group will compete virtually at Westlake, Ohio the other will compete at Carnegie Mellon University.
“I am excited to take my team ‘home’ to Carnegie Mellon as it’s where I went to school- so it’s full circle for me” Akella noted.
Science Olympiad is open to all students regardless of ability. The team is especially in need of sophomores to the roster. Students may join any time of year by contacting Nath Akella, Akellav@salineschools.org.