Science Olympiad ranks at nationals

Group finishes year with 9th place team finish at national tournament



Science Olympiad students celebrating after winning medals at the competition in Wichita, Kansas

After nine months of hard work and preparation, New Trier’s Science Olympiad team has finished the year on a bright note. On Sat. May 20, they won 9th place in the 2023 Science Olympiad National Tournament.

One highlight for the team was a gold medal in Environmental Chemistry, secured by senior Annabel Ma and junior Alivia Gao. In total, eleven students won national medals, scoring high placements in events including Astronomy, Detector Building, and Codebusters. (Full list below)

“It was a big accomplishment for us. From the beginning of the school year, our goal was to be in the top 10.

— Alexander Howe

Alexander Howe, Science Olympiad sponsor and Applied Arts teacher, was pleased with how the season turned out.

“It was a big accomplishment for us,” said Howe. “From the beginning of the school year, our goal was to be in the top 10.”

Sophomore Malachi Noel, who competed in Astronomy and Remote Sensing, agreed that it was a big team achievement.

“We don’t always get [top 10], so it’s nice that this year we finished in the top 10, now for the second year in a row.”

Noel won second place in Astronomy, a culmination of a lot of practice.

“We have a drive with just tons of practice tests from this year and previous years,” he said. “That was my main way of studying.”

Aside from these knowledge-based events that often involve taking a test, other events are lab-based or involve builds.

Junior Tiana Wu competed in a build event called Scrambler, which involves building and testing a specialized vehicle.

“Once you get up to that good of a level, it’s just really small improvements that you have to make,” she explained. “Our launcher changed eight or nine times, and you just have to test it over and over and over again.”

Wu did not initially join Science Olympiad in high school because of Covid..

“They took away all the build events, so I didn’t really have much interest,” she said.

She then joined last year as a sophomore and has been glad to be a part of the team these past two years.

In April, the team placed second at the Science Olympiad State Tournament, securing them one of two spots to represent Illinois at nationals.

“There’s always ways you can improve,” said Howe, “and there’s blood, sweat, and tears like any other sport.”

Beyond the science, Science Olympiad also provides valuable life skills.

“Thinking under pressure and working under pressure is a really great experience for the kids,” Howe said.

For the various events, students typically get 50 minutes to complete their task. 

Freshman Ary Varshney was one of two freshmen to attend Nationals, participating in a trial event called Robot Tour. He hopes that it will be added as a normal event next year. Varshney has also talked about his experience with getting to know people on the team.

“It’s a group that it doesn’t matter who you are, you can walk up there, and I can guarantee there’s at least one person that you’re going to get along with,” said Varshney.

Howe agreed, mentioning that the group’s end of year banquet was a good way to celebrate both their collective achievement and friendship.

“It was a really nice way to end the year,” he said. “The competition was fine, but it’s mainly about friendship.”

One main focus from the banquet was the seniors, ten in total, who graduated the following week after the competition. 

Noel relished that he got the opportunity to compete with his brother, Isaac, for that final high school competition.

“It felt special because Science Olympiad is something that’s very important to both of us. I just had a delightful time to be able to do it with my brother,” he said. “And that is something I won’t forget, ever.”

Full list of National Medals winners: 

1st Place: 

  • Environmental Chemistry—senior Annabel Ma and junior Alivia Gao

2nd Place: 

  • Astronomy—senior Isaac Noel and sophomore Malachi Noel
  • Detector Building—junior Andrew Xia and freshman Elan Hao

4th Place: 

  • Codebusters—senior Annabel Ma, sophomore Varun Murali, and and freshman Elan Hao

5th Place:

  • Forensics—senior Annabel Ma and junior Andrew Xia
  • Remote Sensing—sophomores Varun Murali and Malachi Noel

6th Place: 

  • Forestry—senior Charlotte Calkins and sophomore Kaci Morris
  • Cell Biology—seniors Zijun Deng and Colin O’Donnell