Early into the school year, I applied for a Science Olympiad Captain position. Not even a month later, leading weekly meetings and typing up a weekly broadcast became second nature.
I am a Junior…with a leadership position—for a club I envied freshman year and felt hopeless towards after my partners dropped last year. This year will be different. This year I will make the most of this club.
To increase turnout, we only met once a week during school hours and sometimes I brought baked goods.
To increase the amount of people taking placement tests, I sent out reminders as early as September for early November testing and the date of the event as soon as it was posted on sciencenc.com.
I attended all but one meeting while stressing the value of communication and commitment.
Mondays were for captain meetings,
Wednesdays were for general meetings,
Fridays were for email reminders.
Like clockwork. Every week. Unless otherwise noted.
Through the midst of this clockwork, event teams became unorganized as some dropped—holes not fully known until week of the competition.
I went from having two events to no events to two events given simply because of partner holes.
The night before, two of my friends came over to work on their construction event. They had to build a catapult while having assorted paperwork that went with it marked with charts and graphs indicating the average distance it flung objects of various weights. So we worked on it for five hours in the frigid misery known as after Carolina rain in the cold—waddling through the muddy substrate covering my backyard as golf balls flung overhead.
After we heated back up inside, I realized the sheer quantity of information I had left to learn by afternoon—one event I just received that night, and the other received two days prior. When my friends left, I spoke to my Water Quality partner for the first time. I was to tackle the “cheat sheet” we were allowed while she was to figure out how to make a salometer from scratch.
Amidst a few bloody noses, a loving tortie “helping”, and mugs of hot caffeine, I managed to stay up, study, and complete two “cheat sheets” before the convenient time of 4:30am.
One of my friends (and fellow captains), T picked me up before 7am. As we waited outside another friends house, he pulled out some super glue and told me to hold his bolt so he could work on/begin his gravity vehicle. Total amount of sleep for three high school Juniors that morning? At most four hours.
The first event I participated in was Forensics which my partner and I were not only lacking materials for but we didn’t fully read the directions. Two vegetarians+ bacon based prompt+ decent amount of time since completing chem= recipe for disaster. I’m still convinced the only reason we survived was by mooching off our schools varsity team (thanks Jessica!) for supplies to test powders and the sheer ability to read English. Somehow, we didn’t get last—don’t ask how…we don’t exactly want to know. The ability to name a liquid based off how a bead floats in it with the molarity identified? That, we’re willing to know…for next year of course.
Since Water Quality wasn’t until after lunch, it only made sense to go get Cookout around 10:30 after eating my own lunch at 9:30 in the morning.
That experience alone can be summed up as T got lost, lives were feared, and sprinted into room for Water Quality which ended up a lot easier than Forensics. Somehow we got first place and I almost cried.
As Science Olympiad came to a close, I sat in the host schools cafeteria listening to the hum of middle and high schoolers embrace a common theme—the power of science, education, and community. And as I hung out with some of my teams seniors, I realized the legacy that was being given to me—and the futures I was shaping while watching some freshman magically pull out a hammer and attempting to deconstruct their construction event on some lockers.
During the award ceremony, I took as much in as possible.
Middle schoolers sprinting around the gym—being joined by a charismatic senior
Hand stands and cartwheels and backflips
Nostalgic seniors looking back on their journey through the program since freshman year while embracing their close friends as if it was the last time they’d see them
As I collapsed in bed that night with bags under my eyes and a blue ribbon noting my success, I thought of the stars forming constellations and how I should pressure my sister into Astronomy next year.
Just kidding….I’ll pressure her into doing Forensics.