International Academy students win state Science Olympiad

Team heads to national competition

By: Brendan Losinski | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 10, 2017

 International Academy’s Science Olympiad team came away the victors at the 2017 state competition, hosted by Michigan State University April 29.

International Academy’s Science Olympiad team came away the victors at the 2017 state competition, hosted by Michigan State University April 29.

Photo provided by Brad Davies

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BLOOMFIELD HILLS — Fifteen students from the International Academy in Bloomfield Hills came home as the winning team at the Michigan Science Olympiad, an annual competition where teams of high school students compete in a variety of science, technology, engineering and math related subjects.

The state competition took place April 29 at Michigan State University. This was the 35th state tournament and the 17th attended by International Academy’s team.

“In order to qualify for states, schools had to compete at regional competitions. Ours was in February at Detroit Country Day,” explained Brad Davies, the team coach. “The state competition was at Michigan State University, and you had 60 teams competing, with ... no more than 15 students competing on each team and no more than seven could be seniors.”

The tournament comprises several tests that require academic aptitude, hands-on creation and testing skills.

“The variety of events is pretty cool. You have chemistry, physics, biology, earth science, programming and engineering,” said Davies. “There is a rule book produced each year. Some events are a lab, some are a test, some are both, while others are engineering tests where you need to build a device and then test it. We had to build a helicopter powered by rubber bands this year, for instance. We took first place in that event because our helicopter was able to stay in the air for two and a half minutes.”

Davies stressed how beneficial programs like this are that encourage students to learn about STEM-based subjects in a fun, team-based manner.

“You have the additional intellectual benefits,” he said. “Students learn more about several subjects, about how to test something or how to create something. I also love the teamwork aspect of it. It’s not just about this particular kid goes on to states or that kid gets to go on to nationals; the team goes or no one goes.”

Students compete in a wide range of subjects, with each student usually competing in several at each competition.

“Each school gets to choose their own students based on their own criteria,” said Davies. “At IA, we test them and then provide those who want to try out for the team with tests to construct a few various creations. After we get our 15 students, we try to match our students with which event best suits them. Our team is successful in large part because they enjoy working together and they are a good team. We have passionate students and we have caring students.”

After this win, the team will go on to compete against other winning schools from all around the United States.

“The national competition is at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and it is Friday, May 19, and Saturday, May 20,” said Davies. “The location of the national competition changes every year. Each state will bring only one or two schools, based on population. We get to bring two from Michigan. The other school that qualified from Michigan is Northville High School.”

The students on the team were enthusiastic about their victory and warily excited about entering the national competition.

“It’s a lot of work, but if they are prepared to deal with it, it is very rewarding to be there with their team. The competition is a celebration and culmination of everything you have worked for,” said team member Kate Adams-Boone. “I’ve been there a couple times before, but this was my first time there with the IA team. I really could feel the team coming together and work together. It felt like one giant bonding activity. It was nice to see all my hard work and all my teammates’ hard work pay off in the end.”

Some students said the Olympiad will be one of the highlights of their high school career.

“There are few moments I will remember as vividly as having hoisted our trophy onstage in celebration of our first-ever trip to the national tournament,” said team member Ranganath Katawate. “Our journey to nationals was by no stretch an easy or guaranteed one. It was the summation of hundreds of hours of work by the team, which is why it gives me immeasurable pride to say that we were the team that did it. We beat all the odds, the naysayers who thought we wouldn’t make it, and those who looked down upon what a team of 15 like-minded individuals could do. I know I will forever remember this season of Science Olympiad at IA as one of many successful years to come.”

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