Science team earns honor at state competition
Northwestern Lehigh’s high school science team placed eighth at the State Science Olympiad Competition at Juniata College this spring, ranking higher than they did last year, and earning the highest rank of any high school in its region.
“We took 15 competitors and a couple of others that [participated in] some trials,” teacher and club advisor Bob Biese said. “The top six teams from each of the six regions get to go. We were first in our region.”
“The kids did real well,” teacher Dave Moyer said. “We took eighth place in the state.
“We’re the smallest school in the top 10 and we do real well for our size. We’ve been in the top 10 for the last 10 years.”
“We got one place better than last year,” Violet Shane said. “We did a lot better.”
Austin Stasko and Tanner Klotz took second place in hovercraft and Anthony Vennera and Ryan Terrel took third place in helicopter.
Earning a fifth place slot were the teams of Ryan Terrel and Sarah Kromer in wind power and Sarah Kromer and Justin Gruber in material science.
The two teams that earned sixth place were Katie Morrison and Justin Gruber in ecology and Adrianna Walp and Ryan Lichtenwalner in hydrogeology.
Walp, who is interested in the field of chemical engineering, said being on the science team “is definitely a good thing.”
In addition to the designated events, several trial events were also offered.
Sophomore Sara Sweitzer partnered with Natalie Masetti to participate in a trial event called code busters.
“I liked meeting other people who were on the [different] science teams and finding out what they were going to do,” Sweitzer said.
Biese stressed how important it is to involve underclassmen in the trial events.
“[These students] are our backups,” he said. “They run errands between events and provide the support for the team.”
“[We’re] losing some of the seniors, [but] they’re passing their knowledge on to us so we’re going to be strong next year,” Shane said confidently.
“We went last year, too,” Masetti said. “We stayed at a little motel. Exploring the college was really fun.”
Biese said that the experience of going to the state competition is invaluable.
“It’s a real world event. They’ll carry the skills they develop there with them for the rest of their careers,” Biese said. “They’re going to take the ability to problem solve into college. They’ll actually start on what they’re going to be doing for the rest of their lives.”
The Science Olympiad tournament offers unprecedented science opportunities for both girls and boys. “There were definitely a lot more guys [at Juniata],” Walp observed, “but on our team, [the guy/girl ratio] is definitely even. The stigma [for women] is going away, slowly but surely.”
“There was a woman’s physics team making ice cream, and they were handing out [samples],” Sweitzer said.