: Of all the astronomy tests I've ever taken, this was definitely the best. Astronomy is my favorite event, without a doubt and by many miles, and I only wish that I could have done better, both for me but also for my partner who worked so hard after joining Science Olympiad this year to master the DSOs. I only touched sections B and C, but both were theoretical with the, in my opinion, harder free response or derivation type questions than classic plug and chug of many astro tests. Admittedly, due to a combination of fatigue and lack of preparation in that regard, I did get tripped up on the binary orbits question and landed a flat 2/20. I had given up all hope of placing within the top 20, knowing that I had missed the last JS9 question and a few others, and could have tanked the team. My partner complained about the easy DSO section and lack of arxiv questions after the test, which could be taken as an area of improvement. I did the DSO section last year and agree that they can leave something to be desired. A few questions from research papers mixed in with the classic Donna questions could go a long way in making people feel good about their countless hours researching the objects. Especially because it is so common for one person to hyper focus on DSOs in this event, that section of the test could do with more theory and less ambiguity usually afforded to it by the HR diagram questions. In the end, we somehow medalled and did not tank our team, which was as much as a surprise as it was welcome. I can't wait for the galaxies test next year! 100/10
: From what I saw, the event supervisor checked all the boxes: the test could stratify teams, the tracks were well made, and the hovercraft's were run promptly almost as a "show," where the teams were announced to the room of wide-eyed spectators like gladiators or something awesome. I remember having to quell my own excitement after "New Trier" was declared to the crowd so that I could focus on avoiding the misfortunes of last year and making sound and precise decisions about my device's settings. The volunteer who was timing my run on Track 3 was knowledgeable and supportive, both before and after my successful runs, and his positivity was greatly welcomed as I was still recovering from the emotional hole of the Astronomy orbital problem (oops). After the device ran, the test went smoothly. My partner covered most of the elementary physics problems, and I focused my attention on the fluids and free response. We noticed that the event supervisor seemed to create a test that was a conglomeration from many different sources, as the value for gravity changed throughout the test (lol). Also, some of the sig figs felt ambiguous in the free response with the diagrams and different sig fig rules. I think I messed up when doing the fountain problem and it cost us the gold, but in end I'm very happy with our showing and thrilled with retiring this event on such a high note. 8/10
Details about my run
: 16 pennies and a 15.72 run time with a 15s target time. 41.5/42 Build score.
: The event was run flawlessly, period. A notoriously hard event to supervise well, being either awkward or unenjoyable at many major invitationals, the supervisors knew exactly what they were doing (using syringes) and made sure each team had the same starting conditions and time to take the test. The test, too, did not disappoint. The history questions actually tested the extent of my notes and had a little on everything. After 1-40, I jumped to the last free response and was confused by the thermal conductivity question (when SA was not given?) but otherwise found them as simple problems that should be accessible to all teams, but also I did not do many free response and my partner could have been destroying the hard ones while I did 1-40. In considering the ice bonus and my heat retention, I think it could have hurt the most competitive scores because the addition of ice (O degree @ 50ml) would almost instantly lower the starting temperature to around 40 when a 38 degree inner beaker was necessary to get over 15 points with the bonus. It also lowers the denominator in the prediction score and could end up increasing error if off by the same margin. I'm looking forward to this event next year! 10/10
Details about my run
: 1.85 Heat retention factor (assuming ~15 Heat retention score) and 24.8 Prediction score. 39.8/40 Build score.
Mission Possible (4)
: After a season filled with bombs, errors, breaks, and mission greatly underperforming, including at state, everything finally came together for nationals and, other than a timer that went a little quickly at the high altitude and 1 broken task, our mission did as well as it could have. In terms of hours, I probably spent the most time on this event, working 2-3+ hours for the first few months after deciding to pick it up in early december until the mechanics of the device were working properly. My partner pulled through, too, in making 3 PCBs for the circuit based tasks, just in case the other two were to break (of which 1 did!). The event supervisor seemed cynical as he judged but he was also knowledgeable and understood the workings behind every task. 8/10
Details about my run
: 1530 points, 96s timer.
Overall, nationals was an amazing experience, from the team hiking to the post astro reflections, and I know that both I and New Trier will come back stronger next year