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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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NU Science Olympiad Club hosts third annual high school invitational

Photo courtesy of Joshua Feng for NU Science Olympiad
Event categories ranged from forestry to forensics.

After more than nine months of planning, Northwestern University’s Science Olympiad club hosted its third annual invitational on campus on Saturday. Over 600 high school students competed in 26 science categories at the highly anticipated event. 

Science Olympiad is a nationwide organization that hosts tournaments for middle school and high school students. The competition topics vary year to year, but typically include a wide range of sciences, including biology, chemistry, physics and engineering, among other categories.

This year, NU’s club worked to expand on last year’s competition, offering more events and utilizing more spaces on campus.

Using almost every building on campus, from Tech to Fisk, the club arranged for 15 faculty members and over 120 undergraduate and graduate student volunteers to oversee the events, ranging from codebusters to classifying fossils.

Weinberg junior Gaby Nolasco volunteered as a human anatomy and physiology teaching assistant, working with Science Olympiad for the second time. She said she loved helping the students learn more about a topic she is also interested in.

“I really enjoyed just being there, and I got to see the students bring in their little cheat sheets for the exam,” she said. “It felt weird being on the teacher’s side. It was really cool.”

Many of the science events involve chemicals or lab spaces that require faculty supervision. Weinberg Prof. Katie Gesmundo, the general chemistry lab director, said she was eager to support the club’s efforts.

“I’m excited that the high schoolers can experience a college lab for the first time, because I think that can be a light bulb moment for them,” Gesmundo said. “They are still doing high school tournaments but doing it at a college feels special, and I’m glad we could offer this space.”

The co-Presidents of the club, Weinberg junior Skyler Stone and McCormick junior Jack Vogel, worked tirelessly with the rest of the executive board to extend invitations to schools across the country and prepare. They said they were “thrilled” with the turnout.

Stone said the registration period is on a first-come-first-serve basis.

“This year, we filled up within an hour, which is crazy,” Stone said.

Some of the high school teams in attendance included the two top-ranked teams in Illinois, the top team from Nevada, and the team from California at the fourth-ranked public high school in the country.  

“We had 41 teams from the different schools,” Vogel said. “Five or six of the teams have placed at nationals before, so we had a very intense competition.”

The event started at 8 a.m. and went until 5 p.m., culminating in an awards ceremony held in the Tech Auditorium.

Katie Schroetlin and Sudiksha Napolean, freshmen at Naperville North High School in Illinois, said they thought some aspects of the event could have been improved. 

Napoleon said she felt many of the tests weren’t updated to fit the current rules of the official science olympiad competition, and Schroeltin said there were issues with the event schedule.

“The way the schedules were set up, a lot of people had two events happening at the same time, so they couldn’t go to both,” Schroetlin said. 

However, some high schoolers thought this experience was better than many of the competitions they had been to previously. 

“This year, we had a really enthusiastic event supervisor,” said Steven Zhang, a senior at Lake Forest Academy in Illinois. “It was probably the best chem lab I have done. It was really organized, had lots of TAs who were really dedicated, and it was really good overall.”

Ultimately, the event is a unique opportunity for high school students to explore a college campus and learn more about sciences that they might not be exposed to in a normal high school curriculum, Stone said.

“I don’t think enough people get excited about science,” she said. “It’s just so refreshing to see the high schoolers get so excited and work very hard for this event.”

Email: [email protected] 

X: @skylerzur74

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