On Saturday, March 31 the Grand County High School Science Olympiad team competed at the state competition, held at the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City. Fourteen students and two coaches spent the previous week preparing for the competition, coming in on spring break to do so.
That preparation paid off as the team walked away with five medals and a fifth place finish out of more than 30 teams from across the state and in divisions 1A through 6A.
Seniors Hannah Stripeika and Ryan Lewis placed second in the forensics competition, in which students are given a crime that they have to solve. Lewis also placed first in material science, where he had to make water beads from scratch.
Lewis teamed with fellow senior Ryan Reed to place third in mission possible, an event where students have to recreate a variation of a Rube Goldberg machine. Reed also took second place in the astronomy event. Reed was required to identify and interpret different deep-space objects, such as super red giant Alpha Orinis.
Senior Grace Osusky and freshman Gillian Windsor placed second in disease detectives, a category that focuses on the history of food-borne illnesses, modes of transmission and criteria for investigating outbreaks.
Osusky told The Times-Independent that teamwork among the Grand County participants made all the difference.
“Our team is really close and it just creates an energetic dynamic,” Osusky said. “We all love science and when you get the chance to pursue a passion with your friends, it makes it that much better. Science Olympiad really takes a team effort to go far and we all really came together at the competition to do our best.
“I’ve been doing Science Olympiad for five years and this is the first year I won a medal at the state competition. It’s also the hardest I’ve worked in my primary event, disease detectives, and all of the work paid off. Dedication is a necessary part of success in whatever you do.”
The team placed in the top 10 in 15 events overall and missed placing fourth by one point.
Maple Mountain High School won this year’s competition — for the fourth year in a row — though they were almost beat by Hillcrest High School of Midvale. Grand County coaches Laura Reed and Mary Walker-Irvin said they are “proud of the students and anticipate next year’s season.”
Osusky added that the commitment of Reed and Walker-Irvin has helped her and her teammates learn about the specifics of each event the team competed in.
“Mrs. Reed and Mrs. Irvin are both there for us,” Osusky said. “If I ever have a question, I can always ask them and they’ll help me through whatever problem I have. They also encourage us to work hard in our events. That kind of support really makes a difference. The whole team spent at least two hours every day in the science lab during spring break getting everything ready for state. It wasn’t mandatory. Our coaches told us they would be there and we all just sort of showed up to study and get prepared. That’s the kind of commitment every team should have.”