From St. Mary’s Academy athletes and Marian singers to aspiring scientists and school-wide leaders, the Science Olympiad team at SMA boasts one of the most diverse group of students on campus; despite this diversity, they all share one thing in common: an interest in the methodical study of science. “Science Olympiad covers different STEM fields that you wouldn’t normally get to learn about in your regular science classes such as genetics, astronomy or engineering-related topics,” described science teacher and Science Olympiad advisor, Julia Stadler.
In its 12th straight year, the team, comprised of three 15 member teams, placed 4th, 6th and 7th out of twenty teams at the 2018-2019 state competition. “We start meeting in September and we meet once a week for an hour and a half to prepare and study for both Washington and Oregon state tournaments,” Julia described.
But it’s not how many medals the team earns or how the team places in the competitions that equates to a win, according to some of the team captains. Many described that it’s the participation, connections created and valuable skills acquired that make it all worth it in the end.
“It’s how everyone works together on the events and how a big component of it is studying as a team and learning from one another,” said team captain and SMA senior, Anna Lipari. “When I was a freshman, seniors and juniors were teaching us about interesting science topics and they seemed just as enthusiastic about that as they did winning. I felt at home here and the sense of community has been one of the biggest draws for me,” Anna added.
That’s not to take away from the hard work that takes place behind the scenes each year. As an all-female team, the girls compete with a variety of co-gender groups from across the Pacific Northwest, and supporting one another they say is a crucial part of their work, too.
Seniors bidding farewell to SMA in June said they’ll take what they’ve learned over the years in Science Olympiad and utilize those skills and qualities towards their future, “It is very like student-driven and it comes from our own interests and passions and I think we do really well.”
Although the team is saying good bye to current seniors, ongoing members are excited for incoming freshmen who will take interest in the program, “It doesn't necessarily depend on how much science you know because you might end up on protein modeling and learning things like anti-CRISPR proteins. It's more about your enthusiasm for science and your willingness to learn new things and put in the work and do the research.”