By Ram Krishnan and Bhuvana Ramanathan
Thirty-one schools, 98 teams, nearly 1,400 students, and one champion! The Carmel Valley Middle School (CVMS) Science Olympiad team won the regional Science Olympiad again! On Saturday, Feb. 2, the hard-working young scientists of CVMS repeated last year’s championship by beating many of the strongly ranked schools, such as Mesa Verde and Black Mountain to bring home the trophy.
San Diego County hosts the largest Science Olympiad competition in the nation, with almost 1,400 students participating from grades five through eight. Teams are made up of 15 students each and compete in 23 science-themed events. This year, there were many new events such as Boomiliver, Helicopters, Sounds of Music and Metric Mastery, along with perennial favorites such as Anatomy, Disease Detectives, Forestry and Reach For The Stars. Students, along with volunteer coaches, began studying for each event back in October and spent four hard months in intense preparation to get ready for the competition.
The day of the Olympiad started early for the CVMS students. The sun had not yet risen and the pink hues of the morning sky greeted us as we drove east to Ranch Bernardo High School. We were going to the 2013 Regional Science Olympiad as returning champions. The heavy weight of expectations of parents, coaches and teachers were on the students’ shoulders.
In many ways this was a year of rebuilding for the CVMS SO team. The two CVMS Science Olympiad coordinators, Rekha Iyer and Yonghong Yang, were brand new and so were several of the coaches. Some of our best performers from last year’s winning team had gone on to high school and a fresh crop of eager 7th graders had taken their place. It was natural to wonder ‘Will we be able to recapture our winning ways?’
The students and coaches were wearing their bright green CVMS t-shirts. Understandably, there was nervousness written on the young faces as they started making their way to their designated events. But as the morning wore on and more events were completed, there was growing confidence in our camp.
After a full day of competitions, the awards ceremony started at 4.30 p.m. in the Rancho Bernardo High Gym packed to capacity with 2,500 students, coaches and parents. The always enthusiastic regional director, Liz Jablecki, called out the top 20 teams for each of the 23 individual events. Slowly but surely the wins piled up for the Bobcats. They managed to win an astounding nine events out of the 23 and got five second place and five third place finishes. Some of the events we won were brand new events like Boomilever, Rotor Egg Drop and Shock Value.
After the individual awards it was time for the team awards. The Bobcats hearts were racing as Liz announced the top five teams. Black Mountain, our fierce competitor, was announced as the 5th place finisher. There was a tie for third – our own little neighbors the Torrey Hills Hawks won 3rd place along with Marshall. Finally Mesa Verde was announced as the 2nd place winner. Pandemonium broke among our ranks and we were cheering so loudly that our first place finish announcement was almost drowned out.