Science Olympiad Heads to State After Competing in Virtual Regional Tournament


Photo Courtesy of Andrew Chen

Junior and Science Olympiad captain Andrew Chen created cheat sheets to help study and prepare for competitions. His study session typically consisted of taking practice tests, browsing through online resources and reviewing information from his cheat sheets.

Science Olympiad placed third at the Orange County Regional Tournament on March 7 and is advancing to the Southern California State Tournament on April 3. To accommodate COVID-19 safety restrictions, invitational hosts held their competitions online using platforms like Zoom, Scilympiad and Onshape. 

Each event was assigned to two or three members from Science Olympiad. Each member is assigned to either Team A or Team B, both teams each competing in every event. 

Science Olympiad placed first in Circuit Lab and Machines, second in Dynamic Planet and Geologic Mapping, third in Sounds of Music for Team A and fourth in Chemistry Lab, Codebusters, Designer Genes and Sounds of Music for Team B.

Portola High competed in Division C, the high school level, against 43 teams from 37 different high schools. They competed in 22 main events, such as Astronomy and Protein Modeling, and seven trial events, such as Rocks and Minerals.

“One of the best advantages of this platform, Scilympiad, was that the partners could work together in real time so their answers could be synced and talk to each other through a chat box,” co-executive director of Golden Gate Science Olympiad Matthew Tang said. “It preserved that whole teamwork aspect of Science Olympiad, because I think one of the most important parts of SciOly is the camaraderie.”

Partners competing in the same events met online every week to create tests and study guides, conduct research and quiz each other. They also met for team bonding over applications like Zoom and Discord, according to freshman Rachel Kim. 

“Being new to Division C, it’s a lot harder to compete with seniors who are already developed in that event they’ve chosen,” Kim said. “But, I feel like this was more of a learning experience for me than actually competitive experience, so I would say that it was more educational.”

Despite setbacks caused by the pandemic, club adviser and science teacher Sharon Fronk says Science Olympiad has continued to show growth.

“Seeing the club go from two kind of distinct teams of like ‘I’m on A Team, I’m on B Team’ to this more fluid of we are all part of SciOly, and we’re all in this to make Portola as good as possible,” Fronk said, “and a sense of pride with that… with going from kind of this underdog team to really making a name for ourselves in the district.”