HomeClubsScience Olympiad club thrives in Bay Area competition

Science Olympiad club thrives in Bay Area competition

Published Mar. 7, 2023


Whether it be crafting gliders out of rubber bands, designing parachutes for bottle rockets, estimating the amount of water in Lake Michigan or knowing everything there is to know about river formations, the CHS Science Olympiad club is the place for any students interested in the sciences, In-N-Out and hanging out.

According to senior Riley Spidel, the club’s recent regional competition was full of all of the above and more. Located at California State University, East Bay, on Feb. 25, the tournament offered over 35 events to 46 teams and more than 40 schools that allowed students to test their skills in a variety of different disciplines, including engineering, ecology and more.

“It’s a great way to be able to experiment and learn about different kinds of sciences,” says sophomore Mackenzie Nesbitt. “They have life sciences, they have astronomy, and they have forensic sciences–it makes it fun and easy to try lots of new things.”

Riley Speidel, now a senior, placed 12th in the Flight event at the last in-person Bay Area Science Olympiad competition in 2020. Now team president, Speidel returned to the Flight event Feb. 25 at the CSU East Bay campus and placed 9th out of 46 teams. (courtesy of RILEY SPEIDEL)

Nesbitt, like most of CHS’ competitors, was signed up for four events including Disease Detectives and Forestry. Club president Speidel’s main event is Flight, in which students are tasked with designing a glider using rubber bands prior to the competition. A pilot herself, Speidel took home 9th out of 46 competitors. 

“As a team, we just try to get to as many events as we can and have a good time,” says Speidel, explaining that due to the competitive nature of many other large schools, CHS’ small and casual team is present more for enjoyment than medaling. “It’s fun. We’re hanging out on this campus for eight hours, and we get up early and then get home really late, stopping usually for food. It’s a fun day of science-focused people hanging out.”

The club is advised by CHS biology and anatomy teacher Mishele Newkirk-Smith, who was asked to continue the already-established middle school program when she started at CHS five years ago.

“I agreed because why not? And it’s been a great experience since then,” Newkirk-Smith says. “We have fun and we support each other. I love the fact that the students are willing to go into a competition where they’re not in their comfort zone, and they don’t feel stressed. They just say, ‘I did my best,’ and I’m very proud of them for that.”

Newkirk-Smith notes that although the monthly standardized competitions adapted for online learning were a great way to expose students to different sciences, the team is excited for the chance to embark on a trip again. 

For students interested in future competitions, Science Olympiad meets Tuesdays at lunch in Room 18.


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