Northwood Science Olympiad advances to State


Aya Takase-Songui

READY FOR TAKE OFF: Junior Kristen Lew and sophomore Gabby Lan carefully wind up the rubber band to propel their plane for the Regional flight competition.

Riya Gupta, Staff Writer

Students held their breath nervously as their hand-crafted plane took off in the sky, circling in the air as they awaited their plane’s success.

Northwood’s Science Olympiad team placed sixth at the Orange County Regional Competition on Feb. 25, qualifying for the state competition for the 17th year in a row.

The team-style tournament was held at UCI where 33 teams from across Orange County competed in 23 events to showcase the team’s knowledge in a wide variety of sciences.

Taking top team placings, sophomore Hunter Welch and senior Shayan Halder placed first in Remote Sensing, junior Derek Lee, senior Jonathan Kang and freshman Dhruv Panchagatti placed second in Codebusters, sophomore Stanley Suen and junior Kristen Lew placed third in Disease Detectives, Suen and Lee placed fourth in Anatomy and sophomore Gabby Lan and Halder placed fourth in Dynamic Planet.

For several students, finding out they had placed came as a relief after consistent dedication and hard work.

“Once they announced who won fifth and sixth place for Remote Sensing, my partner and I thought that we hadn’t placed,” Welch said. “But when they announced that Northwood had won first place, I was shocked and excited.”

First-year adviser Dustin Le attributes recent team accomplishments to strong collaboration during club meetings.

“During meetings, it’s like seeing a big group of friends having fun,” Le said. “That’s why I was pretty happy to contribute. Having the time to spend time with your friends and put effort into something you really care about is really fun to see.”

Club members underwent a rigorous schedule to prepare for the competition, taking several practice tests per week to prepare for study events and regularly checking build event devices to ensure successful test results.

The team held a group study session the night before to ensure that each member was ready for the next day’s competition. “Sometimes on the night before, you can’t find the resource you’re looking for through any Google search for your project at stake,” Lan said. “It can get frustrating, but you have to dig deep into other resources to hope you can find it.”

Following recent success at the regional tournament, the team is now preparing for the upcoming state competition which will be held in April at the California Institute of Technology. The top placing teams at the state competition then advance to the national competition with competitors from the U.S., Japan and Canada, which will be held at Wichita State University in Kansas in late May.

Despite the high stakes, the team is maintaining a similar approach and focusing on refining their skills for the remaining tournament season.

“Every small detail we see must be taken care of,” sophomore Shrey Shah said. “The road to the state competition will be difficult, but we can definitely make it together with hard work.”