Science Olympiad: The Road to State

Pari Gulati ('24) and Meera Abuelshar ('24) flying their Wright Stuff plane. Photo courtesy of Carmen McQuistion.

The work it takes to succeed in anything is substantial, but the work the Science Olympiad team puts in is especially incredible. This year, after months of preparation, work, testing, and building, the C Division Science Olympiad team won State and will be heading to Nationals in May. While we prepared for State, most Saturdays were spent in the Middle Division makerspace from 8:30-2:30, working on build projects for competitions or studying for specific testing events. There are two divisions: B Division, which consists of grades 7-9, and C Division, which consists of grades 10-12. This year, Casady brought both teams to the State Tournament. 

Pari Gulati (‘24) has been on the Science Olympiad team since grade 6, and she has competed at the state level since grade 8. As one of the most dedicated Science Olympians, she takes her work for the team quite seriously. She frequently spends the entirety of one SciOly workshop on one build project, from about 8:30-2:30. If she hasn’t finished at the end she’ll work from home, usually about an extra 3 hours, but it varies with how much homework she has. Build events demand the most time and diligence outside of school, because they have to be constructed, tested, broken down, and re-built repeatedly in order to find the optimal combination of materials, weight, and strength. Pari creates balsa wood bridges for Bridge, one of those build events, that have to be tested and broken down to find weak spots and develop ways to improve them. She also builds planes for Wright Stuff that need to have the perfect combination of weight for gliding and lightness for speed and height. She placed 4th in both of these events at State this year. “I feel like I did my best, but I would definitely like to spend more time in advance alongside the teachers and my partners to get work done more efficiently and precisely. I would like to try different designs for my builds before I have to buckle down for the tournaments, but it can be difficult with the limited time I have.” 

The Upper Division Science Olympiad team is led by Co-Captains Spencer Anderson (‘22), Jason Li (‘22), and Jennifer Ou (‘22), alongside Mr. Marley, Mr. Amarnath, Ms. Zesiger, and Mr. Parr. “Mr. Marley is a dedicated and efficient leader who always holds us accountable and wants us to succeed,” Nonie Reding (‘24) noted. Mr. Marley, when he is not teaching, can frequently be found in the MD Makerspace helping students calibrate build projects, improve test sheets, or record log information for students doing test runs of their events. He took over Science Olympiad after Ms. Bek-gran left a few years ago. “Our coaches are so great at encouraging us to learn and pushing us to succeed, and I am so grateful for the opportunities that Science Olympiad has given me, even if it means working overtime on the weekends. What makes it so special and worth it is I’m with my friends all the time, and we’re all learning together about [what] we’re all passionate about,” Meera Abuelshar (‘24) commented.  

It has been especially bittersweet this year, as we are losing many seniors who have spent upwards of 4 years in Science Olympiad, but winning State alongside them has been an excellent way to say goodbye.