Science Team scores big at Olympiad competition
Northwestern’s Science Team placed eighth overall at the Science Olympiad held the last weekend in April at Juniata College.
“I think they did great,” said Elizabeth Ache, science team adviser. “A lot of them placed in the top 10 and there weren’t any major mishaps.”
Individual medals went to Tanner Klotz and Austin Stasko, who took second place for hovercraft, fifth place for optics and seventh place for thermodynamics and to Riley Shafer, Owen Moloney and Tyler Stasko, who took third place in helicopter.
The top 10 also included Natalie Masetti, seventh place in towers; Violet Sane and Landen Lloyd, eighth place in rocks and minerals and ninth place in astronomy; Justin Gruber and Brandon Smeltz, ninth place in Fermi questions; and Lauren Sewald and Adriana Walp, 10th place in herpetology.
“It was easily the hardest competition of the entire year,” Stasko said. “The team that won our state is one of the best teams in the country.”
“Harriton is a STEM school and they have a science Olympiad course.
“It’s clear they put a lot more time in it than we do. In hovercraft, Harriton is closest to our team, but in the other categories, they’re one step above.”
Stasko had high praise for his teammates.
“We have a great atmosphere [in Science Team],” he said. “It’s all about how we compete with each other. I see my team mates being successful and that makes me want to be the same.”
The competition was rigorous but the students had fun. “The night before is definitely interesting,” Klotz said. “Stuff goes wrong and we stay up really late in a hotel in Altoona.
“On our way back, we stopped at Quaker Steak and Lube. They have a hot wing challenge and we ate about six burning wings.
He touted Austin, Riley [Shafer] and himself for their efforts.
“The way they performed the wing challenge was very indicative of their competitive personalities,” said Ache, with a smile.
“It was a lot of fun,” Walp said. “I always enjoy seeing how I rank in the state and getting to meet new people.
“On our team we had more girls competing this year than in other years.”
“The kids work an insane number of hours to do what they’re going to do,” said Bob Biese, who accompanied the Science Team along with Ache. “[Most] people don’t really have any idea about the hours they spend testing on the college level and beyond.”
“I really enjoy spending time with kids who are excited and interested about science,” said Ache.
Then, with a measure of pride, she added, “There are 180 Science Olympiad teams in Pennsylvania and Northwestern is the smallest team in the top 20.”
Before competing at Juniata, the Science Team traveled to Kutztown University to compete on a regional level, along with about 30 other schools from central eastern Pennsylvania.
“I was happy to see that most of the team came out with individual medals at regionals which contributes to your team getting first overall,” said Klotz. “I got four medals, one first and three seconds. You work in pairs.”
Klotz and Stasko worked together as a pair at Kutztown as well. “We’re like a dream team,” said Stasko. “We’re kind of like the physics specialists.”
For example, “Optics is mostly geometry,” said Stasko. “As one person is calculating the other is manipulating mirrors.”
Ben Fry has been a member of the Science Team for the last four years.
“This was my best year,” he said, “I think it’s helped me to explore my interest in biology and when I took the SAT in biology, it helped.”
“I just really enjoy helping the kids become better problem solvers,” said Biese, a math teacher who also has physics certification. “They’ve become a very, very strong group. They tend to go to high level schools after graduation. They are just high-level students.”
Walp became interested in chemical engineering when she job shadowed a woman at Air Products.
“She introduced me to a bunch of engineers all of them women,” she explained.
In September, Walp will be studying chemical engineering at Schreyer Honors College at Penn State.
Klotz will also be attending Penn State where he wants to major in mechanical engineering.
“I think what engineers do is amazing,” said Klotz. “What I want is to make the world a better place by creating new technologies. I’ll figure what [those are] in college.”
Fry, who placed first in anatomy and physiology, and first in microbe mission at the Kutztown competition, will be attending Johns Hopkins in the fall in hopes of pursuing a career in medicine.
Stasko will be attending Cornell University after graduation where he hopes to major in mechanical engineering. “I really want to focus on advancing renewable energy because it’s one of the biggest problems we’re going to have to face in the future,” said Stasko.
It’s no wonder that Biese believes,
“There’s no better experience than working with the Science Team.”