SPA’s Upper School Science Olympiad team earned a championship title in last weekend’s Science Olympiad State Meet. The team of 14 Upper School students placed first in the Small Schools Division, and ninth overall out of the 28 schools of all sizes that participated.
In addition to the team title, junior Will Sedo ‘22 (pictured) placed first in the “Gravity Vehicle” event, beating out thirty other teams competing in that category. The team includes team co-leaders Maya Choi ‘21 and Allison Audette ‘21, and team members Mina Mandic '21, Sam Konstan '21, Will Sedo '22, Divya Bhargava '22, Eleanor Smith '22, Sonia Ross '22, Isabella Tunney '22, Sophie Cullen '22, Clara Garner '22, Kevin Chen '22, Rishi Bhargava '24 , and Henry Choi '24. Dr. Steve Heilig, Upper School Physics faculty, and Cathleen Drilling, Upper School Biology faculty, co-advise the club.
According to Drilling, the members of the Science Olympiad team spent the year meeting and collaborating to prepare for the science-based competition. “The events are usually a test, a novel experiment, a building task, or some combination,” Drilling says. In a typical year, example projects include a “Protein Modeling” project in which students build a specific protein model in advance of the competition and then answer questions about protein structure on a test; and a “Detector Building” event in which students construct a required detector, such as a temperature sensor, test their detector during competition, and then answer questions about relevant components or variables.
Due to the pandemic, all competitions this year were virtual, including the State Meet. At the state competition, competitors took online tests, and during some hands-on events, uploaded photos or videos of their work.The Gravity Vehicle event, won by SPA’s Will Sedo, had two hands-on building components: competitors built both a ramp and a vehicle that used the ramp to power its movement (solely through gravitational potential energy). “Just before the competition, students were given a specific travel distance and then they adjusted their ramp and/or vehicle to meet that standard,” Drilling says, “which means that they had to build a very controlled system that they could manipulate to meet the specific target.” Drilling also notes that Sedo competed in the event alone (many projects are completed in pairs) and came within about 1 cm of the 9.25 meter target distance--”which is amazingly accurate!” Drilling says.
Congratulations to our championship Science Olympiad team!