Science Olympiad headed to state

Oak Park and River Forest High School’s Science Olympiad team is going to the state tournament this year, to be held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on April 22.

This is the fourth year in a row that the team is competing at state, according to an email from Karin Sullivan, executive director of communications.

The team qualified for state after finishing third at the regional meet on Saturday, March 4, according to Katie Kralik, the team’s faculty co-sponsor. “Our Huskies built planes, bridges, clocks, catapults, WiFi antennas, gravity-powered vehicles and a digital scale (all from scratch!),” she wrote in a school-wide email. “Our two teams medaled in 33 of 46 events, and–this is our favorite part—every single kid won at least one medal.”

The team consists of around 40 members, up from seven when it began in 2015. Science teacher Tom Kennedy is the original faculty sponsor, and Kralik joined as co-sponsor five years ago.

The club meets every Monday and Wednesday after school until 4:15 p.m. Its purpose is to boost learning and interest in science. “It’s a good place for women in STEM with a majority of girls who attend,” said senior Kate Sturgeon, who joined this year.

The club’s roles are split up by officers and co-captains. Co-captains are seniors Adelyn Smith and Zeke Wells.

The club is very tight knit and gets to know each other through “a lot of team bonding, exercises like playing family feud, and a lot of the time is spent socializing as well as studying,” Sturgeon added.

Due to the pandemic the last few years of state competitions have been held virtually, Sullivan explained. However, this year the competition is back in person.

The team’s success in the regional competition was cause for celebration among the members. “We were all really excited,” said senior Aidan Esparza. “I was proud of everyone. All the work that everyone put in paid off.”