Carmel Valley Middle School wins San Diego Regional Science Olympiad

Carmel Valley Middle School team members celebrate their win at the San Diego Regional Science Olympiad competition.
Carmel Valley Middle School team members celebrate their win at the San Diego Regional Science Olympiad competition.
(Robert Pisor)

Carmel Valley Middle School (CVMS) took home the first place trophy at the San Diego Regional Science Olympiad competition on Saturday, Feb. 4 at Carlsbad High School. This is the sixth consecutive year that CVMS has won first place at the regional competition. Ninety students on six teams from CVMS competed in the competition out of the total 117 teams from 35 schools that day. Over 1,500 students participated in the regional competition this year. At 6:30 a.m., students, parents and volunteers were already at the school getting ready to compete. At the evening awards ceremony the top 20 teams were announced for each event and the top 10 school trophies were awarded. Each year, the top eight schools advance to the state competition.

Twenty-three different events that focused on different science topics were hosted at the competition by professional volunteers, and CVMS students each competed in two to four events. The topics covered by each event ranged from life science (Anatomy and Physiology, Ecology) to chemistry (Crime Busters, Food Science) to engineering (Towers, Wind Power). All events are partner events, meaning that two students competed for each team in all 23 events, with the exception of Experimental Design, which has three students competing for each team.

Each event was coached by a CVMS parent volunteer or a former CVMS student. Coaches donated numerous hours of their own time preparing and teaching material for their students, and many of the parents have professional backgrounds in the subjects they taught and have been coaching Science Olympiad events for many years. Most of the student coaches had also previously participated in the event they coached and received awards when they competed. For example, April Cheng, a ninth-grader at Canyon Crest Academy, coached the event Reach for the Stars for CVMS this year, and her students received first, second, third, fifth, seventh and 12th place in this event at the competition.

Many parent volunteers were also present at the event for the entire day, helping to check-in students and ensure they were ready to compete, organizing food and drinks for the students, and setting up and cleaning up the CVMS base camp where participants stayed when they were not competing. The CVMS Science Olympiad coordinators, Yabin Su and Joan Chen, were also present for the whole day, ensuring that everything ran smoothly and assisting students, parents and volunteers with miscellaneous tasks. These two volunteers also spent a remarkable amount of their own time organizing classes for the students and coaches, registering the participants for the competition and placing them on the six CMVS teams, and working with every member of the CVMS Science Olympiad team to ensure that CVMS was able to do its best at the event.

The CVMS Science Olympiad team’s success would not have been possible without the continuous support from the CVMS staff and community. Cara Dolnik, the principal of CVMS, provided a significant amount of support and dedication to the Science Olympiad program. The CVMS assistant principal, Robert Shockney, was also present during the awards ceremony to congratulate the CVMS students on their achievements and he also assisted in handing out medals to all of the students during the ceremony. The CVMS Science Olympiad program also received a number of sponsorships to help fund them from local companies, such as Pfizer, Torrey Hills Technologies, LLC, SAP and Qualcomm. This year, CVMS’ six teams were named after constellations: Cosmos, Avalanche, Galaxy, Eclipse, Shockwave and Thunder. Each team had 15 students.

Students began studying and working for their events in September 2016. Before the San Diego regional competition, they also competed in a CVMS mini competition in December and different teams also participated in different invitational competitions hosted by other middle schools in Southern California to give students the chance to experience what the regional competition is like and gain exposure to more types of tests that could be similar to those at the regional competition. For example, one week before the regional competition on Jan. 28, the Shockwave and Thunder teams competed at the Mesa Robles School invitational tournament in Hacienda Heights. John F. Kennedy Middle School and Winston Churchill Middle School, who have both had their teams advance to the national Science Olympiad competition as the representatives for Northern California, also participated at the competition. CVMS received fifth place overall at this invitational tournament.

The CVMS Science Olympiad state team selection process is currently under way, where 15 students are chosen that will represent CVMS and advance to the Southern California state competition on April 8 at the California Institute of Technology. The school that places first overall at the state competition will represent Southern California at the national Science Olympiad competition at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio on May 19.

--Angela Liu is a staff writer for the Torrey Pines High School newspaper, the Falconer