West Torrance High’s Science Olympiad team won first place overall at Regionals held at Antelope Valley College in February, and will be advancing to State, which will be held at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. West High’s Science Olympiad team was awarded $1,000 as a part of the Torrance Education Foundation’s STEM Initiative, which a cumulative amount of $25,000 was awarded to 16 different elementary, middle, and high schools throughout Torrance.
Junior Cindy Cao came up with the idea last spring to begin a Science Olympiad team at West High. Over the summer, a meeting was held in order to explain all 23 events, which require varying combinations of building, studying, theoretical and practical knowledge. Students signed up for events they were interested in, relating to various topics including “genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechanical engineering and technology.”
Junior Irene Yum specifically chose Disease Detectives, Chemistry Lab, and Cell Biology.
“We held meetings every Tuesday and Thursday to prepare,” she recalled.
“The test we took at Regionals was rather difficult, however, the notes and research we did benefited a lot,” explained junior Tarun Allaparti, who was Yum’s partner in the event Disease Detectives. Allaparti and Yum placed first at the competition.
Science Olympiad acts as a bridge between what is taught in the classroom and methods in which this knowledge can be applied to practical real life situations, allowing students to collaborate and solve problems in competitive environments.
“For Wind Power we had to research various types of alternative energy and wind turbine design. We also had to build our own wind turbine and how much energy it generates is 50% of our score. For Fossils we had to compile a binder of 98 different types of fossils,” explained Richard Ruan, who placed first with fellow sophomore Manas Jinka.
Individually, members won medals in 15 out of 23 events:
4th place Air Trajectory: Stephen Gee and Matt LaRue
2nd place Bridge Building: Stephen Gee
2nd place Cell Biology: Danny Son and Irene Yum
2nd place Chemistry Lab: Daniel Yang and Irene Yum
1st place Disease Detectives: Tarun Allaparti and Irene Yum
4th place Electric Vehicle: Matt LaRue
3rd place Experimental Design: Cindy Cao, Katharine Lee and Michelle Zhang
4th place Forensics: Cindy Cao and Daniel Yang
3rd place Fossils: Marenda Bie and Richard Ruan
2nd place Geologic Mapping: Stephen Gee and Cindy Wu
2nd place Hydrogeology: Marenda Bie and Stephen Gee
1st place Protein Modeling: Cindy Cao, Matt LaRue, and Danny Son
1st place Wind Power: Richard Ruan, Manas Jinka
5th place Wright Stuff: Danny Son
4th place Write it Do it: Stephen Gee and Daniel Yang
“We definitely did not expect to beat 30 teams and win 1st at the Antelope Valley Regionals, so we were super hyped after winning. I think most of our 15 team members were too excited to sleep that night,” said Yum. Of course, the team isn’t celebrating just yet. “Right now, we are working our butts off to prepare for our April state competition.”