By Kaito ’24
Science Olympiad is a club at Harvard-Westlake that has students choose events within a specific area of science in which they will research and compete. The topics can range anywhere from anatomy and physiology to the very concepts of time itself. Although the research portion is largely independent, there are many resources and strategies provided by the club and all the members are more than happy to provide you with any advice or help you might need.
When you receive your topics, you will be assigned a partner that you will work with in each event. This is a great way to meet peers who share interests with you, and the work and research you will do with them will serve as a meaningful bonding experience. As for the actual competitions, they take the form of tests or timed build events (build events are in the case that you have an engineering based event such as Wright Stuff or Wifi Lab). The tests are extremely challenging, but because it is virtually impossible learn everything about a scientific topic in the span of a few months, there are specific sub-categories of your topic that you will be tasked to research. From these sub-categories, the tests requires you to acquire an extensive understanding on the factual level and on the conceptual level. I should also mention that you won’t be working alone on these tests; you will have the help of your partner and whatever size “cheat sheet” your event allows.
For me personally, I have found the opportunity to dive deep into an area of science I had previously little to no familiarity with to be very rewarding. It has allowed me to broaden my existing range of interests and pushed me beyond my normal comfort limits, and I have newfound dedication to continue exploring my chosen sciences. I have also gained skills in studying independently and compiling information with less guidance than I am used to, which is a extremely valuable skill to have for future core high school and college courses. As I said before, I’ve also been able to build relationships with very talented individuals through being a part of this program that I might not have been able to do so with otherwise. In the broader scope of the competitions, there are typically over 200 other teams competing in all the same events your team is, and the rankings in each individual event is cumulative to amass the team’s overall ranking in the competition. As a whole, Science Olympiad has proven to be a valuable experience for me by pushing the boundaries of my academic knowledge and allowing me the chance to create friendships with my teammates.