On the rise in the world of Science Olympiad, LM is well set on the path to becoming one of the powerhouses of the nation. On Saturday, April 29, nineteen LM students attended the Pennsylvania State Science Olympiad Tournament at Juniata College. Their efforts were rewarded when LM Science Olympiad took home the third place trophy, just short of qualifying for the National competition. In the short span of three years, Lower Merion Science Olympiad (LMSO) went from placing seventeenth at States to placing third. Michael Stettner, head coach of LMSO, explained that this year has been “unprecedented in the amount of time the team has spent preparing for competitions and actually competing.”
Students in Science Olympiad build devices and study for 23 events in hopes of advancing to states, and if possible, nationals. Competitions consist of extensive testing of either topics or of previously created devices. As Lucas Barton ’17 notes, “Competition is intense but immensely rewarding.” Individuals earn medals for excellent performances in events, which is not an easy feat. Advancing to the next competition is not an individual achievement, but that of a team. Only the top teams are able to advance to the next round. Max Mazo ’17 comments that “the main aspect that sets Science Olympiad apart from other STEM clubs is that you’re part of a team. It really creates a sense of community and importance while building an involvement with science.” Teamwork is crucial in Science Olympiad. In each of the 23 events, two or more people compete together, and advancement is determined by the performance of the entire team of fifteen from a school.
This year, LM rivaled the best teams in the state and came in third behind Harriton and Bayard Rustin by a mere sixteeen points. Unfortunately, only the top two teams advance to nationals, so LMSO is prepared to work even harder next year and make it to nationals for the first time in fifteen years. However, LMSO has already posted its second best season in the program history, out of over thirty years of competition. At states, they placed in fourteen events, bringing home three gold medals. Over the course of the school year, LMSO has earned a total of 55 medals at six competitions. Mazo remarked about these victories, saying, “There are a couple different kinds of success. There’s individual success when you get a shiny medal; there’s team success when you win a trophy, but most importantly, there’s the success that comes when you make LM proud.”
Due to the team aspect of the competition, many members of LMSO feel that Science Olympiad is more than just a competition—it is a great bonding experience for peers to become family. Kathy Wei ’19 describes the team as “one big family, and we all love and support each other no matter what. I like to always say that you come for the science but stay for the people.” LM Science Olympiad is on the road to success. Daniel Tsai ’17 recognizes this and is “expecting to see this team make a lot of noise in the Science Olympiad community in the next few years.” Wei also invites anyone “to come try it out and get this team to where we [will be] next year, at the national competition!”