Science Olympiad Team transitions into an all-virtual season
January 25, 2021
Most clubs this year have been forced to function online, and Science Olympiad is no exception. Over the weekend, the Science Olympiad Team competed virtually in their first invitational of the season.
“Everything ran smoothly, but it was definitely a little weird to be remote and not be able to check in on the students and see how they were doing,” sponsor Elizabeth Ferhati said.
The students competed online, using knowledge based skills and previous practice. The team placed in various events.
“We placed fifth in astronomy, code-busters, and dynamic planet,” junior Claire Fine said. “We also came in second place for Write it Do it!”
The format of the competition was different from past years. There are a number of events in the Science Olympiad that fall into categories; science concepts and knowledge, science processes and science application. Unlike in-person invitationals, there were no building events, where students design and create different projects, because of all-online competition tests.
“In a virtual test setting, we face-time our partners as they work on another device,” senior Ava Hollis said. “For younger students like freshmen, older students have stepped up to pair with them to make the whole virtual process a little smoother.”
Preparation for the competition was also drastically different. To get ready, the students practiced remotely on their events, via Zoom.
“This practice season has been a little difficult because I have to coordinate with my team members safely, but I have been able to practice and get all my notes together mostly on my own at home,” junior Claire Fine said.
To many of the students, communication was most difficult. Students shifted from collaborating on their work at school, to reaching out to their partners on text or Snapchat.
“In a normal school year, we’d be meeting with our event partners in and out of school to build things, read books and prep note sheets together,” senior Ava Hollis said. “Zoom has been OK for working with team members and delegating prep work, but it takes more effort to connect with people; it’s tough!”
The team had to adjust to the new setup in an all-online universe, and to many, that change can be frustrating or downright puzzling.
“At best, it’s been a little awkward figuring out how things are going to work this year, and at worst, it’s confusing,” senior Adrian Zhuang said. “We haven’t received much information on how and when competitions are going to be organized, which has left us with not much time to do real preparation.”
Needless to say, the students persisted, but not without a few drawbacks early-on. Due to the pandemic and lack of communication, the team also had issues recruiting new members to join the team.
“We began this season kinda slowly because we had to coordinate getting new members that are freshmen, because they probably haven’t heard of our team, which was a little bit challenging with everything being online,” junior Claire Fine said. “But we were able to set up a consistent meeting time for our team which is every Monday at 3pm.”
New team members came into this season not knowing anything different. Some students were concerned about competing in an online competition.
“I’m not confident at all competing online,” competitor Corban Townsel said, a seventh grader from Churchville Middle School. “One major obstacle I’ve had is not being able to focus as much, compared to when I’m actually in the building.”
With so much confusion and unknown circumstances surrounding their season, the team was still able to partake in fun activities and recruit new members to the team.
“We took a really silly group picture for the pep rally where Ms. Ferhati photoshopped ‘Join Science Olympiad’ on pieces of paper we held up and it turned out really nice!” senior Ava Hollis said. “I also liked meeting some of the new team members and welcoming them to the Science Olympiad community.”
Despite all the setbacks, the Science Olympiad team team is making the most of their brief, virtual season. Many students have positive outlooks for competing in the future.
“This season it was just nice to see returning team members and to connect with the coaches again,” junior Claire Fine said. “I’m very glad that our season is still going forward, since last year, our season was cut short right before we had our regional competition at COD.”
The team is hopefully for in-person club activity in the near future, but until then they will continue to compete virtually.
“Even though being part of an in-person competition is incredibly fun, I’m personally alright with doing online competitions,” senior Adrian Zhuang said. “It’s an unfortunate reality we live in, but I hope to be able to make something out of it at least, which is kinda what this past year has all been about.”