The first Science Olympiad Invitational at Hopkins was held on Homewood Campus on Feb. 8. The competition was organized by students involved in Charm City Science League, a student group at Hopkins. Members of the organization mentor Baltimore students every week to help them prepare for olympiads. This year, Charm City Science League decided to host their invitational in order to serve as a practice competition for their mentees as well as other students, and to allow them to hone their skills before the regional and state tournaments.
Students from 18 middle and high schools from Maryland and Washington D.C. participated in the competition.
In an interview with The News-letter, junior Heather Sweeney, the co-director of the competition, explained that the olympiad included 23 events which touched on various fields in science.
“Students compete in different events and at the end the scores are tallied and added together, just like a track meet,” Sweeney said.
The competition took on various forms. Some events directly tested students' knowledge with exam-like questions while others required students to apply science to solve real-life problems. Sophomore Anna Hu, a staff member at the invitational, explained how the Experimental Design event works.
“Students are given an array of materials and a prompt. Using that, they need to come up with an experiment to test [their hypothesis]. At the very end, they hand in what is essentially a report on their experiment,” she said.
Hu explained that in addition to hands-on experiments, there are also “study events” where students are tested on the topic of the event.
When asked about the personal significance of hosting the Invitational, both Hu and Sweeney reflected on their experiences with Science Olympiad in middle and high school.
“Science Olympiad really inspired my passion for science and it’s really important for me to give back to the community and help kids to build the same passion and excitement for science,” Sweeney said.
Hu agreed, noting that Science Olympiad helped her figure out that she wanted to become a doctor. She saw the invitational as an opportunity to encourage the next generation of scientists.
“I really like being able to spread my interest and passion in science and show [students] one more cool option they could follow in the future,” she said.
One seventh grader from Clarksville Middle School shared their favorite event at the invitational with The News-Letter.
“I like Food Science, because I can relate to it and whenever I eat something, I always think about it,” one said.
When asked about their suggestions for improving the competition, they commented on a shortage of materials during the Crime Busters event.
Another seventh grader preferred the Density and Circuit Labs, both of which required a combination of hands-on skills and mathematical calculations, which come easily to the aspiring cardiologist. They remarked that the test questions were a lot easier than those on other competitions.
Nonetheless, both students had a great time and promised to return for future events.