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Lakeshore science team heads to nationals

Krystle Wagner • May 19, 2016 at 8:00 AM

The north parking lot at Lakeshore Middle School bustled with activity Wednesday morning as the Grand Haven school’s Science Olympiad team prepared to leave for Wisconsin.

The Lakeshore team advanced to the national competition at the University of Wisconsin-Stout after receiving second place in the state competition on April 30. Head coach Nate Mihalek said the team’s goal throughout the year has been to continue improving on last year’s success.

This is the eighth year in a row that the Lakeshore team has advanced to the national tournament. The team has advanced to the level for 12 out of the past 14 years.

Mihalek said Michigan is the third-most involved state for Science Olympiad. Lakeshore went up against 48 teams at the regional level and 60 teams at the state competition.

Grand Haven High School received fourth place and White Pines Intermediate School took home 10th place in last month’s state tournament. Those teams didn’t advance to the national round.

On Friday, some students will compete in trial events, which are events that might be entered into the competition in future years. Although the points don’t count for the team, it gives the students a chance to earn medals and gain experience.

Elizabeth Hodge said she’s looking forward to participating in the geocaching trial event. In addition to competing, Hodge said she enjoys spending time with friends and studying during the tournament.

“It’s fun,” she said.

Teams will spend most of Saturday competing in events.

Earlier this week, the Lakeshore team got in some last-minute studying and practice. 

As Lakeshore’s hallways were void of activity after school dismissed hours prior, the small Scrambler car raced across the gym. Ninth-grader Nolan Ruble counted and set the revolutions for the car’s wheels to go before hopefully hitting the set mark.

Ruble and Grace Doyon received 18th place in the Scrambler event during the state competition and first place at regionals. When the team learned they would advance to the national level, Ruble said the hours that they spent in the shop and practicing paid off.

Although Ruble looks forward to competing, he wants to take time to enjoy the experience at the national event.

Ninth-grader Gavin Plemon said this year’s team has more communication between the grades, which he believes helps make them stronger. 

“Our team is solid,” he said.

Plemon said Science Olympiad gives him and other students the chance to explore more fields of science in depth, and helps them learn what they might like to pursue as careers.

As a coach, Mihalek said his favorite part about Science Olympiad is watching the students reach new levels of success.

“Whether it is in practice or during competition, it is so satisfying to watch a student who has been working hard for so many days to do something they have never done before,” he said. “One of the great themes of Science Olympiad is trying to improve upon what you have done before.”

In looking ahead to this weekend’s tournament, Mihalek thanked everyone who has supported the team throughout the season.

“The Science Olympiad season is a long season, and our students have been continually energized by the students and community members who have encouraged us throughout the season,” he said. “We want to thank all of them.”

You can watch the opening and closing ceremonies online at www.scienceolympiad2016.org/opening-closing-ceremonies/.

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