Words: Sarah Paz
Centennial’s Science Olympiad team, affectionately called SciOly by its team members, traveled to the Science Olympiad National Tournament in Ithaca, winning 29th place.
Sophomore B-team member Shreya Vallimanalan said that the team placed 1st in the Environmental Chemistry Event at Cornell University.
“We also came in 12th in Chemistry Lab, 14th in Fermi Questions, 14th in Hovercraft, 16th in Astronomy, and 18th in Helicopters, ” she said. “We definitely view these achievements [as] successes. Every year, we strive to improve, so we will continue to work hard to prepare for next year’s competitions.”
Their success story began nine months ago in September. Even though the club allows anybody to participate, tryouts were held to be part of higher teams like the A-team who represented Centennial at the National Science Olympiad.
Just like any serious sports team, SciOly showed their dedication by practicing every week. At 2:15pm every Thursday, the team would hold weekly meetings beginning with announcements about the next competition. To practice and collaborate on projects, the team would break into the pairs they compete in at tournaments.
SciOly’s consistent determination won them first at the Maryland Science Olympiad which allowed them to qualify for the national tournament.
To celebrate the SciOly’s success at Nationals and a successful year together, the team gathered for a picnic on June 6.
The Science Olympiad team attributes some of their great successes throughout the season to Centennial biology teacher and team sponsor, Jason Piluk.
“Mr. Piluk, our coach, has greatly helped and supported our team… the Science Olympiad Club would not run as smoothly as it does with his guidance. He provides us with a lot of support and encourages our passions for STEM,” Vallimanalan said.
Regarding his role as the team’s sponsor, Piluk stated, “I pretty much make sure the club exists, is registered with the state and national program, provide a workspace for the team, confirm team rosters, facilitate travel to and from various competitions… and cheer them on.”
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