Science Olympiad Update: State Contest


The Science Olympiad team at their annual team dinner before the State Tournament.

By Pavle Vuksanovic, Staff Writer

Science Olympiad attended the state competition at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign April 14-15. Driving down there the day before, the team tackled the competition on Saturday with early morning events starting at 7:00 am and worked through the day.

With their collective scientific work, Niles West placed 13th in the state. The team fought hard, and got medals in the following events:

  • 4th, Disease Detectives, Hana Frisch and Katie Benstead 
  • 5th, Dynamic Planet, Balaji Venkat and Alex Thoppil
  • 4th, Fossils, Wyatt Zwik and Katie Benstead
  • 4th, Geologic Mapping, Balaji Venkat and Zachary Werth 

Looking back on the past few months, senior Hana Frisch saw a major improvement in the team.

“The season started slow, but by Regionals we were able to get 1st,” Frisch said. “My last state competition was a lot of fun. I had 4 events from 7 am to 2:30 so I was pretty busy. I also medalled for the first time in high school, I got 4th in disease detectives.”

In a similar way, senior Muhammad Afzal, who’s been on the team for all four years, is sad to see it go. With difficulties in some of his events, including sudden malfunctions on his mousetrap cart, he didn’t do as well as he hoped, but he feels the team did well overall.

“Science Olympiad state went remarkably well. We were able to place 13th in the state, with over 6 members medalling in events. One of the better parts, in my opinion, is that we beat Niles North who placed 14th. As a school, we performed to the best of our ability while still having great fun,” Afzal said. “Sadly, I graduate this year, but I hope to see the upcoming Niles West Science Olympiad team be even better. We have the potential for nationals, we just need to put our minds to it.”

On the topic of improvement in the coming years, coach Parin Patel hopes for greater things in the coming year. The team is full of very involved students, and he hopes for a coming year where the stars align and there are no conflicts.

“So I think the team did really well. We have a had a lot of odd circumstances and scheduling conflicts, but overall I think the team pushed through adversity and stood out when it mattered. I am proud of the kiddos,” Patel said. “I hope that next year we can be a little bit more organized but I think we have a great group of underclassman who will start to fill in the for the graduating seniors. Can’t wait to see them grow.”

With the seniors on their way out, the juniors need to step up and take charge of the team for next year. One of these juniors is Zachary Werth who has realistic hopes and expectations for next year.

“Next year I think we’re mainly trying to make it back to the state tournament and perform well there. It’s always a great experience competing and hopefully we can continue to get better,” Werth said.

Science Olympiad, now done for the year, rests from their learning and building until next year’s season. If you’re interested in joining, they meet Thursdays after school in room 3420.