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SEM’s Science Olympians

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Huaze (Shannon) Shao and Jing (Lexi) Bian work on their hovercraft.

SEM’s science olympians- a team of 13 – competed in the New York State Division C: Lake Erie Niagara Regional Science Olympiad Competition on Saturday, February 10, at Buffalo State College.

This year the team was co-coached by Ms. Samantha Basile and Dr. Sara Montgomery.  There were 38 teams and SEM placed 20th overall. Juniors Alicia Land and Olivya Hogan brought home a 7th place medal for the Write-It-Do-It event.  Senior Zo Galarneau and junior Maddie Love received a 7th place medal for Rocks and Minerals, while Maddie Love and junior Kexin (Veronica ) Zhang earned a 9th place medal for Anatomy and Physiology.

Alicia felt a little nervous going into the Write-It-Do-It event. In this event, one participant is given materials and an object and they have to write out instructions to build that object from those materials. The second participant must build the object according to the instructions without talking to the first participant. Alicia had to build the object from Olivya’s instructions. She said “In the event there are 30 minutes where I’m just sitting there in silence just anticipating and thinking, so I got super nervous… but it’s very nerve-racking, especially because most of the participants are boys.”

SEM was one of only three teams participating in Science Olympiad that came from all-girls schools. The others, St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart, placed 16th and 27th respectively. “As I was observing, the boys in the co-ed schools talked over the girls, and we don’t have to worry about that [at SEM]… we don’t have boys stepping in to speak for our students or do the work for our students” said Dr. Montgomery. She continued, “the confidence that our students have in my eyes is far better than [girls] in a co-ed environment.” Senior and science club president Sarah Hamdan agreed that the boys’ attitudes were difficult to deal with. “I feel like a lot of the guys were kind of cocky,” she said.

For other participants, stress stemmed from their demanding extracurricular activities and schoolwork. It was difficult for Zo to find time to work on their event, Mission Possible.  Dr. Montgomery said “We’re at a disadvantage because, in a lot of schools, Science Olympiad is actually a science elective that students get class credit for. At SEM, Science Olympiad is a part of the science club, so it’s more difficult to find time to work on the projects.” There were also issues stemming from a less-than-ideal budget.  Sarah said, “other students had projects with metal parts and other materials that I didn’t have access to. I had to make do with what we had lying around, really.” According to Dr. Montgomery, the schools which treat Science Olympiad as a class receive more funding.

Despite these obstacles, Dr. Montgomery was proud of the SEM students’ independence and motivation. She was also proud of president Sarah Hamdan and the rest of the club officers. “Our team leadership this year was very strong,” she said.

Overall, this Science Olympiad was definitely memorable. As Dr. Montgomery said, “I think, from SEM’s perspective, to have the number of girls even interested in doing Science Olympiad is incredible.”

Sarah Hamdan and Zo Galarneau explain their Mission Possible design to Dr. Goetz-Bixby.

Yiting (Fiona) Zhang and Xihan (Helen) Zhu test their tower; it held the maximum weight of 15 kg.

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SEM’s Science Olympians