High school team finishes third at Science Olympiad Border Battle
When pitted against 48 other high school teams, the New Richmond Black Team finished third in its division and 13th overall at the third annual Science Olympiad Border Battle held at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls on Jan. 25.
“Our team had to overcome adversity in competing; some of our best students were not able to compete all of their best events due to unforeseen scheduling conflicts, so the ability for our team to overcome those challenges and still take third was very impressive,” said team member Blaire Ziebol. “I am very proud of them. As a team we have really grown, and although we were hoping to beat Medford and take second place we just were not quite there this competition due to the adversity faced.”
The 30-member New Richmond squad is split into two 15-student teams and competed in 23 events at the competition against schools from both Wisconsin and Minnesota. Twenty-six schools accounted for nearly 800 students participating in the event. The New Richmond varsity team medalled in 12 events.
“The team this year has been extremely dedicated to Science Olympiad and committed themselves to excellence,” said team member Alison Paulsen. “It is because of the hard work of each individual that our team has been so successful and it’s because of their teamwork and their integrity that we have received two team spirit awards. In addition to the hard work of the team as a whole, our program would not be as successful as it has become without our leadership team working diligently to ensure we are prepared for each event.”
The New Richmond team also won a team spirit award at the competition, which made coach Brenda Ramin, a science teacher at the high school, very happy with her students.
“We have been nominated for the spirit award twice now and we’ve won it once,” Ramin said. “You are considered for the award when you are helpful and kind to the judges, courteous to the other competitors and show good team spirit. I guess we made a really good impression on the judges this time around.”
The New Richmond team was led by a trio of upperclassmen as well as a sophomore who each medalled three times at the Border Battle. Among those students were Ziebol and fellow senior Emily LaPorte, junior Tanner Olson and sophomore Victoria Johnson.
“The Border Battle gave us the chance to see how some of the best schools, both big and small, compete,” Ramin said. “We did really well at the competition since over 10 of our 15 varsity members medalled at least one time.”
The team will compete at the Menomonie Regional event on March 1, which will determine eligibility for the state competition. The state competition for Science Olympiad, which takes place on April 4-5, at UW-Stout, involves about 60 teams from around the state. The best team from each school that competes in a regional and participates in more than 10 events qualifies for state.
“The competition at the UWRF meet was much more competitive than our first invitational at Boyceville. This meet had a lot of teams who came from elsewhere in the state and many more teams that came to compete from Minnesota,” Ziebol said. “This includes the team that took seventh at last year’s national competition. It was nice to see ahead of time the teams and their caliber before we head to regional’s and state to face these teams head on.”
Preparation for a Science Olympiad competition varies depending on the event a specific student is competing in, according to Paulson.
“Preparation for events depends on the type of event students choose to compete in. Some of the events require students to build devices before the competition to test at the competition,” Paulsen said. “An example of this is an elastic launch glider. Other events require students to prepare for a test in a topic, and take the test on the day of the competition.”
Not only do the students on the New Richmond Science Olympiad teams take copious amounts of time to study for the competitions, but they also take the time to be part of other activities and groups as well.
“A lot of our students are very involved in other extracurricular activities so scheduling a time where everyone can practice together is very difficult,” Ziebol said. “Science Olympiad takes a lot of individual motivation and effort in order to succeed because scheduled practice time only occurs the week of competition.”
New Richmond finished 15th at the state competition last year; they are hoping to jump up a few places at this year’s competition at UW-Stout.