The Story of a Science Olympian

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Casady Senior James Lowe’s (’21) Science Olympiad journey all started in 2016, when he was just an 8th grader. Since then, he’s been a veteran of the club and a leading figure for the current Science Olympiad team. However, the pandemic’s heavy impact has changed up the way he prepares for the ongoing tournaments.

James’ story began when Mr. Sappington, his 8th grade science teacher, invited him to join the club. Mr. Sappington helped James get involved with the club, and James expressed that “he was a big part of me continuing to do Science Olympiad.” Mr. Sappington also happened to be the coordinator of the events James chose, so he became a sort of mentor for him early on. James was inspired to pursue Science Olympiad into high school and become more knowledgeable in the science field.

As a master builder, James’ expertise lies in building events like Boomilever and Wright Stuff, both of which are rooted in engineering and technology. He’s been participating in them since middle school and has placed very highly at state and nationals. Some of his favorite memories in Science Olympiad were during freshman year, when he was put into a C-level competition with 10th to 12th graders. He built a helicopter, but never had the opportunity to test it before the meet. He overcame this challenge and placed very highly at the tournament. He added that “sometimes the team doesn’t have a build to compete with and needs one to be made quickly, and it’s very satisfying to watch something that took a lot of work to understand turn out so well.” Unfortunately, build events have been cancelled this year due to the current state of the pandemic, but this isn’t going to stop James. While he expressed disappointment for the change, he is still moving forward in new ways. He mentioned that “the competitions have been a lot different in terms of how we compete, so a lot of preparation is going into studying for specific events rather than building.” He’s now shifting his priorities from building to studying for written events like Geologic Mapping, which assesses students on their knowledge of geology, geologic history, and maps. 

James has been to the Science Olympiad Nationals numerous times, but he said his first time was the most memorable. James commented that “it was fascinating to see huge stadiums full of people who were the best in their states and who were really focused on Science Olympiad.” He explained that SciOly is relatively new in Oklahoma, and the level of competition is not very high. Nationals is quite the opposite, as every team is skilled and intent on taking the gold trophy home.

During his 5 years with Science Olympiad, James has felt positive influence from being a member of the club and competing in meets. When asked about his experience, he responded by saying, “It really opened me up to the STEM field and shaped who I wanted to be when I grew up.” He’s decided on majoring in engineering in college, as it’s what he most enjoys. While he’s not sure how far he will take his engineering career, he is certainly very passionate about the subject. James’ involvement in Science Olympiad has led him to discover who he truly wants to be in the future.