By Emmy Yu, Milpitas High School student and reporter for "The Union" school newspaper
Members of the Milpitas High School Science Olympiad Team compete to create more than the average vinegar-and-baking-soda volcano. In their recent tournament at Mira Loma High School, students showcased their talents in events that ranged from tower and helicopter building to wind power physics.
“The Mira Loma competition was one of our harder invitationals for sure,” Science Olympiad Co-Captain Long Dang said. “There were two schools that were national champions from past years.” The 4th Annual 2017 Mira Loma Invitational held in Sacramento featured teams from all across Northern California.
“I believe that we’ll see a more accurate representation of our skills in the upcoming competition,” Advisor Christopher O’Connor said, “especially considering how competitive the teams based in the Bay Area are and the amount of teams that compete.” Despite not placing in the Mira Loma invitational, the team went on to participate in the Wicklund Science Olympiad Tournament in Mountain House, winning first overall of the eighteen teams competing.
“One word to describe Mountain House would be ‘unexpected,’” Junior Rachel Chiang said. “A lot of us went through the day thinking we wouldn’t do very well, but it was a nice surprise considering how hard we worked to study for our events.”
The various events throughout the competition include both a written exam and a building portion. The teams are ranked based on the number of correctly answered questions and the building events are judged on how well students meet the parameters and specific guidelines.
Compared to the Mira Loma competition, “Mountain House didn’t have the two national champions, but it was a competitive invitational nonetheless, Dang said. “In fact, one of the schools spent $6,000 on their robot arm while our robot arm cost about $200 for reference.
With the newly earned win at Mountain House, the team moves on to the Golden Gate Invitational hosted in collaboration with Stanford and UC Berkeley students.
“We’ll be able to compete against at least four teams from Washington, two teams from Texas, another two from Nevada, and one team coming all the way from Hawaii,” Advisor Letta Meyer said.
Events featured at competitions include Ecology, Experimental Design, and Hydrogeology. Junior Jennifer Zhang is scheduled to compete in all of these categories.
“In my Hydrogeology portion, we take a written test, work with computer groundwater simulations, and map possible contamination zones,” Zhang said.
Other events include building balsa wood helicopter and constructing miniature wind turbines to compete to produce the most voltage.