The White Pines, Lakeshore and Grand Haven High School teams will compete in the regional competition at Grand Valley State University on Saturday, March 18.
After missing out on the national level last year, the high school team is beginning the competitive season with a renewed determination.
“We want to end that streak before it starts,” said sophomore Nolan Ruble about the GHHS team not advancing to nationals.
Ruble, 16, has been working on events such as Forensics, Hovercraft, Electric Vehicle, Robot Arm and Helicopters.
To prepare this year, the team competed for the first time in an invitational at West Ottawa High School on Feb. 4, and they also participated in the annual Blue and Gold Scrimmage. GHHS head coach Mike Reed said the invitational served as a means to motivate the team and get them to study earlier and dig deeper into the information.
“They all seemed to enjoy the experience,” Reed said.
Last year, Ruble and fellow GHHS sophomore Matthew Marcus were on the Lakeshore Middle School team. Marcus said it’s been an adjustment to move up to the high school team, where he’s focusing on events such as Astronomy, Disease Detectives, Ecology and Write It Do It.
Ruble said last month’s invitational was a “wake-up call” for some students about making sure they’re prepared.
“You have to take these into your own hands to get ready,” Marcus added.
Although sixth-grader Savannah Dean is a bit nervous about Saturday’s competition, the White Pines team member said she’s also looking forward to the opportunity. After competing in Crime Busters and Right Stuff, Dean said she hopes she can walk on stage, accept a medal with a huge smile and show everyone how passionate she is about Science Olympiad.
White Pines head coach Rhonda Bird said events are running smoothly ahead of the regional competition, and she anticipates a good outcome on Saturday.
“The kids are very dedicated,” she said.
Although Tom Yonan isn’t competing Saturday, the eighth-grader said he’s looking forward to cheering on his Lakeshore teammates. He said this is the first year he has participated in an event that requires building. Yonan said he thinks those types of events are more challenging than the test-oriented events because there’s a chance something could happen to the project halfway through the competition.
Lakeshore head coach Nate Mihalek said he feels as though the ninth-graders on his team have matured and stepped up into the leadership role.
Mihalek said he enjoys seeing how student involvement in Science Olympiad influences and shapes students’ futures as they consider careers related to what they learn in the competitive activity.
“Every year, I’m always so excited to see students involved in the areas of science and engineering, and then to hear their newfound love in those areas,” he said.