Congratulations Science Olympiad Winners!

Congratulations Science Olympiad Winners!

Amelia Helmke, Author

Recently, our High Schools Science Olympiad team, led by Briana Becker and Dennis Petercsak, won fifteenth place out of sixty-eight teams at the virtual New York Science Olympiad competition! Previously, the team won first place at the Eastern Long Island Regional competition, which qualified them to compete in states. New York science Olympiad is a ” non-profit organization which seeks to engage and challenge students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (“STEM”) through various levels of team-based, competitive tournaments throughout New York State.” and their purpose of the Science Olympiad organization is to,” Increase Middle School and High School students interest and success in STEM education, Improve community perception of STEM education, Recognize talented students and dedicated teachers in STEM education through teamwork, cooperation, and respectful competition, Conduct events so as to improve the quality of STEM education, Organize NYSSO Regional and State Tournaments and to provide encouragement and information to potential participants, Encourage and develop relationships between science educators, science students, and the science-related industry, Represent and cooperate with the National Science Olympiad, Inc., Provide financial support through fundraising efforts for the foregoing purposes; and Coordinate with persons, agencies, and organizations to promote and build support for NYSSO.” according to the New York State Science Olympiad website. The winners above fifth place in our school are Jalaj Mehta and Melody Cheng in fourth place in the Circuit Lab, Alex Vasilakopoulos and Danielle Liu in fourth place in Designer Genes, Alex Vasilakopoulos and Jalaj Mehta in first place in Disease Detectives, and Elizabeth Furman and Rachel Ma in fourth place in Fossils. 

This year’s competition took place virtually, which I’m sure was a massive change in the environment for the competitors. Considering that the science olympiad is STEM, I think it was only appropriate to use technology to virtually go through with the competition! The competitors worked extremely hard to get to states, and to place so high in ranks is such a huge accomplishment that deserves more recognition. I reached out to the winners to receive their perspectives of winning. Jalaj Mehta, who won two of the placements, said,” I’d say since I’m a senior and it’s my last year, it’s been an excellent run and the team. I have grown and learned a lot because of Science Olympiad, and if you enjoy science, I encourage giving it a try!”Rachel Ma, one of the winners of the fossil competition, said,” I enjoyed working with the team. I’m proud of everyone’s individual commitments towards getting this excellent result.” and her partner, Elizabeth Furman, said,” I’m very proud of my team and all the time and effort we put in to get these medals. I never imagined I would place so highly in a New York State event! It was an exciting and rewarding experience.” Last but not least, Melody Cheng, one of the co-presidents of science olympiad, said,” Medaling in the state competition came as a huge surprise, but given the work everyone has put in, it was well-deserved. In spite of the challenges that come with competing in a virtual setting, we’ve managed to put together one of the strongest teams in Hauppauge history. Out of over 60 teams competing, we placed 15th overall. This was my last year of Science Olympiad, and I’m glad to have finished it off in such a big way. With all of the time and dedication put in by our younger members, I’m expecting even more remarkable accomplishments to come.”, great response Melody! I also asked the team members if the competition was any different due to covid other than the competition being virtual this year; these are their responses:

 “I think the situation helped our team overall because we have always been science-heavy, so we did far better this year, and it also made the tests far easier to study for because we knew what was coming as it was very similar to last year.” -Jalaj Mehta

 “Previously, it was easier to prepare with our partners because we had weekly meetings where we could discuss and practice together. Due to Covid, we had to find ways to practice with each other outside of school hours.” -Rachel Ma

 “Yes, in two tangible ways. One is that we normally have extensive in-person meetings which involve practice run-throughs and study sessions in the weeks leading up to the regional and state competition. COVID-19 restrictions prevented us from doing that, so our wonderful advisors, Mrs. Becker and Mr. Petercsak had to trust that everyone was putting the necessary work in on their own. These meetings also help to build camaraderie amongst team members. We were able to send three teams to the regional competition, the most members we’ve ever had compete. Still, despite being socially distant, we’ve become a close-knit community whose relationship stretches far beyond the scope of STEM.

Another key change is the absence of building events from this year’s regional and state competitions. In recent years, our strong performances in building events have contributed to our success. The fact that we’ve had one of our most successful seasons without any building events is a testament to the commitment of every member, even those who would prefer to compete in building events. We have several particularly dedicated builders on the team, which makes me incredibly optimistic about how competitive Hauppauge will be in the upcoming seasons.” -Melody Cheng

“For me, it made the competition a bit less stressful because there weren’t a bunch of people everywhere and we could focus better. But I also felt it took away some of the spirit of the competition.” -Elizabeth Furman


 Again, congratulations to the winners! If you would like any additional information about the competition, or science Olympiad, reach out to Briana Becker or visit the New York Science Olympiad website below!