Mark Keppel’s Science Olympiad (SciOly) team participated in the Southern California State Science Olympiad competition held at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) on Saturday April 2. Keppel placed in three events; Juniors Douglas Chin and Rachel Wang won 3rd place for Game On, senior Yang Lu and junior Eloise Chan won 5th place in Wright Stuff, and senior Karen Fann and junior Bonnie Woo won 5th place in Write It Do It. Keppel’s placed 20th place in the state overall.
The objective of Game On create a game from a programming software called Scratch. Wright Stuff involves creating and flying an airplane powered by a twisted rubber band in an attempt to achieve the longest flight duration and in Write It Do It, one team member is given a structure built from a set of materials. The same member then writes instructions on how to build it. The other team member then has to build and recreate the structure using the instructions written by the first team member.
“I was very nervous before the competition as well as after [since my] robot arm was left on overnight, which lead to us frantically buying new batteries.” said Chin. “Aside from that, the events went fairly smoothly.”
Senior and co-captain Karen Fann has been on the team since her sophomore year. Fann and the other leaders of SciOly began having meetings in October to study for material ranging from cell biology to aerodynamics. After placing 6th in the county competition with her team, Fann felt differently heading to the state competition at Caltech.
“It is definitely a lot harder to win medals in our own events at State just because there are so many top-notch schools,” said Fann. “[But] I do know that we’re improving every year. Last year, we were 7th at County and 23rd at State.”
While SciOly may seem to be geared towards textbook test taking, members have immense freedom when participating in building events such as Game On. With her last year with SciOly ending, Fann had the goal of helping others gain the same positive experience with SciOly as she had.
“I actually joined Science Olympiad in 7th grade at my middle school [and] I had a really great experience in the three years I was on the team,” stated Fann. “I wanted to pass on the insight I gained and let others have the same experience.”