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SciO prepares for regionals


On Saturday at 5 a.m. senior Zach Rodriguez got up feeling like death, only thinking about getting ready to get to school. He is excited and apprehensive at the same time and the drive to succeed keeps him awake. By 6:15 he is at the school, ready to board the bus anticipating the meet at Crystal Lake Central.

Everyone walks in with hopes to place in their events and Zach prepares for his first event, Protein Modeling, by making sure he has both his study guide and pencil. With only the slightest fear that he can be disqualified for something foolish like the wrong type of goggles, he is ushered into the room, told the monotonous rules once again and the clock begins to tick with 55 minutes to complete the task.

“We placed in 11 out of the 23 events,” said Rodriguez. “We got first in forensics for both varsity and JV. Mrs. Zielinski was so surprised.”

It all began with a graduated student Vinay Hiremath that went to teacher Brigitte Zielinski and told her that she might be interested in creating a science club. Since she knew about Science Olympiad teams throughout the area they decided to start one.

“It wasn’t me starting it,” said Brigitte. “It was kids coming to me saying ‘Let’s do it.’”

Even though Science Olympiad has only been around for three years, the students are working hard to achieve their goal to make it to state. Between the 25 students involved and 23 different events at competitions there are many opportunities to compete. This year there is a JV and varsity team, with a total of 17 seniors involved. The team is coached by head coach Brigitte Zielinski. Other coaches include Paul Zielinksi, Amanda Henk, Phil McNamee, Erin Stefanik, Jodie Reppert, and Tom Jacobson.

“I joined because I enjoy science and it helps to explore different subjects that aren’t offered at the school,” said senior Megan Walsh.

They have been doing significantly better at competitions this year. They have won a lot more medals, for example, this year at the Crystal Lake South invite they came back home with 11 medals, more than two times as many as they did last year.

“We competed on the same level as some of the best teams in the state in some events,” said Brigitte.

A team won first place in Protein Modeling, which involves a group of three students that must build a three dimensional protein. It must be as accurate as possible with a particular shape and specifications such as making an amino acid every two centimeters. One model is created before they arrive, once they get onsite one person is on a computer looking at what they have to make, another person is doing the actual bending, while the last person takes a test.

There are a variety of events, one is called Sound of Music and someone from another school made a bagpipe once that actually sounded like a bagpipe and was made with PVC pipes.

“We made a flute but it didn’t sound good,” said senior Stephanie Patton. “I don’t know how they made the bagpipe but it was awesome.”

A top contributor to the team is AG Navarro he has recently placed first in protein modeling, one of his four events. At their Crystal Lake South competition they competed against teams that went to state and received an overall score of 294 putting them in third place in our regional and ninth place out of 37 teams. But, regardless of what the results are, the team enjoys their time together at the meets.

“The competitions are fun because there is a lot of down time so you get a chance to bond with other people and get to know them,” said Patton.

Part of the reason for their success is in the “Sci-o Saturdays” that they have. At least once a month for six or more hours students go in to work and work and work. This new initiative is part of why they’ve become better, everyone goes in to study and eat. With many new techniques in place there are only a few obstacles that limit the team.

“The problem we have is that [with] some events like remote sensing, we don’t have the teaching support for them,” said Brigitte.

And yet, the students go in and do the best they can continually surprising their advisors with the talent they have. It’s an activity that the members all really enjoy because everyone is really welcoming to newcomers and many share the same sense of humor.

“I was forced into it, but then I ended up liking it,” said senior Simona Olberkyte.

They have four competitions this year and then regionals. Everyone has high hopes to make it to state. Students practice on Fridays after school and nearly all day on Saturday and each group practices at least one other time during the week.

“We want to make it to state,” said Paul. “And we can only achieve that if we practice as much as possible.”

-Maria Sciortino

Staff Writer

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