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FHS Science Club takes top honors at Science Olympiad

Farragut High School’s Science Club took no time to rest after its second- and third-place wins in the Tennessee Energy Bowl.

Club members took to the road once more to compete in the Regional Science Olympiad at Tennessee Wesleyan College, Saturday, March 1. This time taking first-place.

FHS chemistry teacher and Science Club co-sponsor Amanda Wehner said, “There was no cash prize for this competition but we got a trophy and we get to move on to the state competition held [Saturday,] April 5, at [The University of Tennessee].

Olympiad teams field 15 players with only seven seniors allowed per team. FHS team members are: Kyle Peterson, Dennis Meng, Aidan Boone, Tyler Whittle, Justin Menestrina, Hari Ganesan, Michael Hsueh, Abraham Wang, Michael McCormick, Maryli Cheng, Jani Radhakrishnan, Grace Kihm, Vivek Patel, Ruoke Yang and Evan Lohrey. Coaches are Wehner and FHS science teacher Kristin Baksa.

Wehner said, “Most of our team members were the students who competed in the Science Bowl, we just some additional people.

“We all sat sown together at the beginning of the semester and because you can only have seven seniors, that is what we built from. We decided which seniors we wanted to have on the team and then we filled in the rest where we thought we were weak with juniors. Like we didn’t feel like we had anyone really strong in health science, so we found a junior who was really good in health science and so on,” she added.

The Olympiad is a very hands-on competition.

Wehner said, “The way it works is they have all these different activities. There are fifteen different activities and each activity can have a certain number of people participating, so at any time you may four different activities that your team is doing.

You might have a pair of people doing astronomy while a pair of people is doing a chemistry lab and a pair of people doing experimental design.

“You get points based on how well each pair of kids does on that activity, so if there are six teams competing, each team is going to send a pair of kids to that activity and then you get a first-, second- and third place based on how you do for each activity.

“You get one point for first place, two points for second place and three points for third- place and so on. What you want is to have the lowest number of points at the end. So if you get all first places, you would only have 15 points at the end,” she added.

Some activities require students to bring previously assembled projects to the competition.

“They have an electric car competition, so you build the electric car and it is supposed to go a certain distance and stop, so you get points based on the distance your car stops.

Then there is one called the ‘Right’ competition, named for the Wright brothers. Students build a plane and bring it with them and the winner is who ever can fly the longest distance,” Wehner said.

It is not mandatory that teams participate in all 15 events, but non-participation is factored into the scoring.

Educators Dr. Gerald Putz and John Cairns founded Science Olympiad in 1983 as a way to being excitement to science education.

The first two events were held in Michigan and Delaware and were so successful the competition is now held in all 50 states.

The main objective of Science Olympiad is to bring to academic competition the same respect and excitement garnered by athletic competition.

The UT College of Arts and Sciences Office of Academic Outreach sponsors the state competition with support from the UT/ORNL Science Alliance, UT College of Engineering, UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and UT College of Education, Health and Human Sciences.


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