Science Olympiad Places Second at Regional Tournament

Seniors+Christian+Wu+and+Evelyn+Zhang+with+junior+Kai+Zheng+disassemble+their+construction+for+the+trajectory+event+in+order+to+make+adjustments.

Sanket Makkar

Seniors Christian Wu and Evelyn Zhang with junior Kai Zheng disassemble their construction for the ‘trajectory’ event in order to make adjustments.

The BHS Science Olympiad (SciOly) team took second, the highest placing in team history, at the March 5 regional tournament at Solon Middle School, and is now qualified to compete in the state tournament hosted by The Ohio State University on April 9. 

While Beachwood has always had extremely competent teams, competition at the regional level has been a threat for years, as Beachwood shares a region with schools such as Solon, known to take Science Olympiad extremely seriously.

Beachwood’s historic success, therefore, was something of an upset. Team captain Kai Zheng was thrilled by the accomplishment.

“I was pleasantly surprised at how well we did,” he said. “It was just really impressive, I am just so proud of the team,” Zheng said.

Science Olympiad competitors choose from 23 competitions including everything from ‘disease detectives’, ‘rocks and minerals’, ‘forensic crime lab,’ ‘bridge building,’ and ‘ping pong parachute.’ ”

Zheng joined Science Olympiad in sixth grade, and he has been competing ever since. He says that, in his experience, while Beachwood’s Science Olympiad team has been historically solid, it was Beachwood’s strong return from COVID that truly allowed the team to shine.

BMS science teacher Alise Kulbago, who advises the club, was not completely surprised by the team’s success. She credits the victory to her teams’ early exposure to Science Olympiad and the powerful dedication which Beachwood’s team has come to embody. 

“We have really been building up our middle school team,” she said. “Students have had some experience at a younger age, and now it’s been so consistent that by the time they get to high school they have had a couple years of practice, [and] by senior year they really know what they are doing.” 

“Our dedication and our past experience helped a lot,” senior Evelyn Zhang said. 

Another major factor in the team’s recent success has been a more focused and extremely capable group of students dedicated to building events. Both Kulbago and Zheng agreed that the recent success was undoubtedly due, at least in part, to the BHS build teams earning more points this year than in the past.

“Every year at regionals, our build events somehow fail, but this year it did not happen,” Zheng said. 

This year’s builders Included a strong group including seniors Grace Yen, Evelyn Zhang, Kelly Zhang, David Kuang, Christian Wu, Vidula Jambunath, junior Kai Zheng, freshman Henrik Burda and sophomore Allen Yu. 

“Building can be really inconsistent each year… [but] this year we have had some really strong builders who are consistently doing well, and that just adds into our total points,” Kulbago said.

Science Olympiad competitors choose from 23 competitions including everything from ‘disease detectives’, ‘rocks and minerals’, ‘forensic crime lab,’ ‘bridge building,’ and ‘ping pong parachute.’ 

Competitors compete in an average of three events each, although some people compete in more. 

For example, Zheng competes in five events: ‘detector building,’ ‘it’s about time,’ ‘wifi lab,’ ‘gravity vehicle’ and ‘trajectory’.

Senior Evelyn Zhang competes in four events: ‘code busters,’ ‘it’s about time,’ ‘experimental design,’ and ‘trajectory.’ 

The team’s success has required immense sacrifice and hard work. Team members spend much of their time either studying for events or in club meetings, coming in at 4:00 p.m. for a club meeting and sometimes leaving as late as 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. Zheng has stayed as late as 9:00 p.m. 

Students have had some experience at a younger age, and now it’s been so consistent that by the time they get to high school they have had a couple years of practice, [and] by senior year they really know what they are doing.”

— Science Olympiad Coach Alise Kulbago

Christian Wu, another team captain, agreed. 

“During our competition season, we can have meetings three or four times a week,” he wrote in an email. “And often these meetings can run as late as 8 or 9 p.m. So really, I can’t do much else besides SciOly during this time.” 

Kulbago doesn’t let her club work alone, though, and she acknowledges that the team also depends on tremendous dedication from her as a coach.

“I spend my entire month of January, February, and March pretty much at Beachwood High School [except when I am] at the middle school teaching,” she said.

Despite the work, many find Science Olympiad to be incredibly fun. 

Zheng noted the profound impact Science Olympiad has had on his work ethic and dedication to school, as well as some of the great opportunities it has provided him over the years. 

Wu elaborated on his experience attending overnight at an invitational held at the University of Michigan in February.

“From the overnight experience to exploring the campus, nothing else really compares,” Wu said. “And a lot of the credit for organizing the trip goes to our fantastic adviser Kulbago along with Mrs. Sansonetti and Mr. Pillai.” 

Parent volunteers such as Mrs. Sansonetti and Mr. Pillai help run events at tournaments and bring food for the team. 

Wu went on to explain the memorable moments he has had at Science Olympiad tournaments.

“It’s just walking around the building with friends… watching other build events run and just talking,” he said. “My best moment was probably while we were sitting outside in the school’s courtyard before the awards ceremony just talking and throwing a snowball or two.”

Kulbago and the team are confident about the upcoming state competition at OSU and hope to set the stage for future victories as well.