By: Nick Swafford
If you enjoy anything science, building, or competition, then boy do I have a club for you. There’s a club here at Heritage called Science Olympiad, and you might have heard of it at one point or another, but you may not know exactly what it is or what you do.
To start things off, I should probably just put it out there that I’ve only been in Science Olympiad for one year, so I may not know or fully understand everything that surrounds it, but as someone that went to nearly every meeting this school year and did relatively well at the actual competition, I think I’m qualified enough to talk about this.
Now, I may have just confused you a little bit by saying “competition,” so let me explain. At the beginning of the school year when the club starts, you are taught the ins and outs of how the club works. From there, the club advisors will show a large list of topics that range anywhere from anatomy to water quality, and you get to choose what topics you would like to research and work on during the majority of the club’s time together. Then, after a few months, there is a competition that tests you on the information you acquired throughout the duration of the year. I wish I could say these tests were easy, but they are actually pretty hard, and you only have a very limited amount of time to complete it. The good thing about it is that it has no impact on your school grade, so if you flunk it, oh well.
Now if you have a building event, things work a little differently. Instead of finding information, recording it, memorizing it, and then testing on it like you do for most of the events, building events have you use all the club time to create and test a working vehicle, structure, or any other varying object. Then, at the competition, you bring that building and get it officially tested by the North Carolina Science Olympiad officials. Based on the scoring sheets, you are placed among the rest of the contestants. If it is good enough, you could earn a medal. The scoring guide goes for the regular events as well. If you place well enough then you can earn medals based on if you get first, second, or third.
I can’t say I’ve gotten a medal yet—after all, it is my first year in the club—but I can say that it has been a pretty fun experience. I had the most phenomenal time at the competition and had an amusing time between events. It’s also a great opportunity to look appealing to colleges if you are interested in any of that. And if you are interested in a specific topic that you would like to study more, the club is a great opportunity for that. If any of this sounds interesting then the least you could do is attend an interest meeting that is held at the beginning of the school year.
Over the course of the year, I have had my mixed feelings about the club if I’m being honest. My normal schoolwork mixed in with the work that is required from Science Olympiad was challenging at times, but very recently, we had the competition which signals the end of the year, and my opinion has changed completely. During the majority of my time in the club, I dreaded going to the meetings because I had to work with the bane of my existence: fossils. I didn’t know what I was signing up for at the beginning of the year, but as I realized that I had to research more than 100 different genera of fossils, I started hating it. Long story short, me and my event partner gave up at 30. Then came the Astronomy event, and if you know anything about me, then you know I’m a pretty big space nerd, but this was on a whole nother level. I had to research specific galaxies like the NGC 5195 dwarf galaxy that is a wonderous 26 million light years away and in the absolutely magnificent constellation Canis Venatici.
If you can’t tell, I’m being heavily sarcastic.
Astronomy was actually pretty fun to research, although it was a little information-heavy. Compared to fossils, it was amazing. My last event I did was mousetrap car. In this event I had to build a functioning wooden car powered completely by mousetraps to go forward 8 meters (about 26 feet) and then reverse direction and go backwards 2 meters (6.5 feet). The overall process was tiring and extensive but all together enjoyable. Never in my life will I ever get that pure rush of dopamine that flooded my system when I got my car to work for the first time.
Although I went through some rough patches in the club, I came out of it with all brain cells intact–thank god. I also learned several new pieces of information and skills. I may have even grown as a person by increasing my tolerance for things that completely suck. Yes, I am talking about fossils. Not to mention how much fun I had with my friends at the competitions. The people in the club is what made it for me. Without them, I doubt I would ever finish any of the events or even show up to half the meetings. It is a wonderful opportunity as a whole though, and if you want to stand out to colleges, learn more, and socialize, then join this club; I may even see you next year.