Story Time

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starpug
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Story Time

Post by starpug » October 3rd, 2012, 8:54 am

After Nationals this year, I felt the urge to write a little bit about my experience with Science Olympiad and scioly.org. I realize that this is both long and convoluted, but read it through and I think you might just get something important out of it.

On June 7th, 2012 at 7 PM EST, I graduated from High School. That Graduation marked the end of many things, one of which was my years of competing in Science Olympiad. Even now, I still find it difficult to think that it’s over. I did Science Olympiad for six years. There were points in those six years where I thought I would never do Science Olympiad again. There were also many moments that I don’t think I will ever forget. I write this today to show my gratitude to the Science Olympiad community. I would have to say it has affected my life in ways I would never have dreamed of six years ago. Six years ago I still lived in Northern California. Six years ago I didn’t have much in the way of friends. Six years ago, I still thought the job I was destined to have was veterinarian.

Today, I live in Maine. When I moved in the summer between my freshmen and sophomore years of high school I only did so because I knew I would be able to continue to do Science Olympiad here. It just so happens I went from one perennial Nationals attendee, Mira Loma, to another, Waterville High School. Science Olympiad played a considerable roll in my integration into the school community at Waterville. I can say without question that the move to Maine from California was one of the best decisions of my life. Not only did I move to a school that I have become extremely attached to and where I have made many many friends, but I also learned an important lesson about Science Olympiad. We’ll get to that lesson a little later.
Six years ago, I wanted to be a vet. I love animals and I love science, so I figured that I might as well merge those two loves and become a vet. I still think it would be fun to be able to work with animals, but Science Olympiad showed me that what I really wanted to do was engineering. In my first year doing Science Olympiad, way back in 7th grade, I picked up Storm the Castle because I had seen it in an introduction video that my coach shows to the entire team before each year and I thought it looked cool. To this day, Storm the Castle is my favorite event. The experience of building, testing, and tuning a device on this scale was entirely new to me, yet it just felt like the natural thing to do. I still thought I wanted to be a veterinarian, but as I continued doing building events through the years it slowly dawned on me that I could do something similar for a living. Today I am attending Lehigh University and planning to major in Mechanical or Electrical Engineering. I truly do not think that this would be the case if it hadn’t been for Science Olympiad.

I first joined scioly.org in 8th grade after Regionals. I had won three medals out of my four events at Regionals with the fourth event being a fourth place. I thought I knew everything about Science Olympiad. If you look at some of my earliest posts (which were in the closing days of the old board and the early days of the new board), you can see how clueless I was. One of the reasons I joined the board was, quite frankly, to brag. It was by sheer curiosity that I joined the chat one day and things kind of took off from there and being on chat led to volunteering to move the wiki over to its new location. I did so because I was bored and had nothing to do since I really didn’t have much in the way of friends. Science Olympiad was basically all I did besides school, so the wiki gave me something to do when I wasn’t working on my events or school work. As I did more and more work on the wiki I became more and more familiar with it, so when the board was fully switched over I continued to work on it not only because I had nothing better to do, but because it made me feel important. I found myself spending more and more time on both the boards, and the chat in addition to the wiki. I was one of the first officers in the Assassination games and as some of you might know I was also one of the first people to be banned from the Assassination games. I continued to patrol the event forums in those early years, but over the years, I have slowly come to realize how little I actually know. Eventually, I was taking advice from other users more then I actually gave advice myself. I eventually stopped doing as much work on the wiki. I mostly just worked on the tricky things on the wiki, like the event info boxes. I never really noticed that a lot of the admins and moderators had been slowly disappearing nor did I realize that it appeared that robotman and I were next in line. It was to my great surprise when robotman and I were raised to moderator status and then quickly to admin status. I must confess robot has probably done a lot more to run this forum then I have. I know nothing about pHp and I know barely anything about programming, robotman is the one who knows all about that stuff. I just sort of ban people who I see advertising and set up team forums for people. My advice to anyone who thinks they have what it takes to become part of the staff is hang out on chat a lot, you'll get to know some of the people with power and they'll get to know you. They will also notice how often you're around, which is one of the criteria for becoming a staff member. Edit the wiki too, that's a pretty easy way to get medals and maybe you'll get to be a wikimod if you put a lot, and I mean a lot, of time in. It really isn't that hard to do as long as you conduct yourself relatively well.

The prestige that I got from the medals and then later on when I got the titles of wikimod made it easy to make friends on the chat and the boards. To all of you who I made friends with, I thank you. To all of you who helped me with my events by sharing things that you worked hard to learn I thank you too. Things got a little difficult after I became an operator on the chat and an admin on the forums because suddenly I went from just being a well respected member of the community who helped maintain the wiki, to someone who was asked to maintain order. I did what I thought was necessary to maintain the open and accepting atmosphere we have here. I am not going to say that all my decisions were the right ones and those who have thought I was too heavy or light handed, I apologize.

And now for a brief pug intermission

My goal, for as long as I can remember, has been to win a National medal. In order to do that I first had to get to nationals. I didn’t even get a chance to compete at States until after I moved to Maine. Lucky for me I moved to Waterville High school that had gone to nationals for 14 straight years going into my first year on the team, in 10th grade. We made it 15 straight at States that year. My partner and I literally walked into Chemistry Lab having not studied at all besides taking AP Chemistry and not only got 1st, but came very close to acing the test. I got 1st in Egg-O-Naut because I had spent a lot of time working on my parachutes and I had one that was about 4 feet in diameter that deployed almost all the time. I got 4th in Trajectory even after we had an accidental launch that hit my partner in the face. I got 5th in Environment Chemistry after doing even less work then I had done on Chem Lab. So I figured I was in pretty good shape for a medal and I didn’t even need to study. I even picked up Forensics because we lost three team members who had competed at states. I did some work on my events before nationals, but for the most part, I thought I was in good shape. I probably did the least amount of work overall on Environmental Chemistry. Rather ironically I ended up placing 15th in Environmental Chemistry at Nationals, with a 33rd in Trajectory, a 49th in Forensics, a 51st in Chem Lab, and a 56th in Egg-O-Naut. Egg-O-Naut was so bad because I had had to try to remake my 4 foot diameter parachute because I had lost the one I used at states in an updraft and because of some stupid modifications I made the night before the competition. However, the 15th in Environmental Chemistry was encouraging. Perhaps if I had actually put some effort into that event I could have done even better. The following year, our Nationals streak ended. It was disappointing, but I figured that I still had one more year to make it back to Nationals and win a medal.

This year, the team worked hard to make it back to Nationals and we ended up winning states by a considerable margin. I took on 2 building events this year plus 2 lab events that involved building something before the competition. The result was that it felt like I was being dragged in 4 different directions at times. Partially as a result of this, my personal states performance was the worst of my three years in Maine. I only managed to walk away with a 2nd in Thermodynamics and a 3rd in Protein. Both of my building events had performed outside the top 5. Having learned my lesson from sophomore year I was much more reserved in my aspirations for Nationals. I knew that Thermodynamics was my best shot at a medal and there was an outside chance my Gravity Vehicle could get a lot better thanks to a few improvements. This time I decided to study hard for my events. I spent time reading through some of our Thermodynamics resources. Not wanting to look like a complete fool I also put a decent amount of time working on the Robot Arm in hopes of getting it to work a little better. I felt very good about the Thermodynamics test at Nationals, but our device somehow managed to be 20 degrees colder than our predictions would have suggested. Nonetheless, when they announced the winning teams I still hoped that I could have somehow come out with a medal. In the end, none of my events this year placed higher than 50th. I will confess that I thought about completely swearing Science Olympiad off, including scioly.org after that happened.

Something happened at Nationals that drove home something that I had been learning ever since I moved to Waterville. Science Olympiad at Waterville is a lot different from Science Olympiad at Mira Loma and Churchill. In California I was asked to sacrifice most everything else I did for the team. In Waterville, it was expected that you do other things besides Science Olympiad. When I tried out for the team at Mira Loma only hoping to get a spot on the B team I didn’t even get that. When some of the people who they selected quit, I finally got a chance to compete. We competed with less than a full team that year, meaning that I was basically the last person who they chose to be on the team. Keeping this and the Electric Vehicle fiasco in mind, my chances for ever making the A team were not great. I didn’t even have to try out for the team at Waterville, every year that I’ve been here, everyone who came to the first meeting made the team. The mentality here is just different. I’m not say I didn’t have fun doing Science Olympiad in California, because I had tons of fun, but enjoyment was sometimes sacrificed for performance. In Maine, the goal is to have fun first and foremost and sometimes doing well is part of that and sometimes it isn’t. At first I still very much conformed to the California approach, but before States this year I hardly thought about going to Nationals at all this year until the results from the first events of the day were posted and we were in the lead.

So what happened at Nationals you ask? All Friday we tried to get my building events working and I spent most of the Opening Ceremony wishing that the speakers would just finish up so I could get back and keep working. While I was walking back to our dorm after the swap meet to try and do some last minute work before I went to bed when I came across my Gravity Vehicle partner lying on a bench because he was too sick to walk. I helped get him in the car brought by one of our coaches and got him back to his room. By the time we had gotten him back to the dorm and settled I had realized that it really didn’t matter how I did on Saturday since there were more important things in the world than just winning a medal at nationals. My partner didn’t compete the next day because he was too sick and so I ended up just winging it in Gravity Vehicle. Robot Arm didn’t work very well either, but my partner and I still tried to have fun and it seems the judges had fun too watching our robot. We do Science Olympiad not for the medals, although they do make a nice clinking sound, or the trophies or any of that, we do it because we love Science and we want to have fun. Why then do people put their medals and places in their signatures? Why do we have threads like this whose purpose is essentially to brag about how good you are at Science Olympiad? I'm not trying to call out anyone particular here, but it hurts when you see people talking about all the medals they won at nationals when you were not even close to winning one. The same principle applies to state and regional competitions as well. We should have a thread to see who had the most fun at nationals, not who did the best in all their events. A Science Olympians worth should not be measured by the number of medals he or she has, it should be measured in how much he learned and how many friends he made and how much fun he had and how many people they helped and how many times they’ve been glued to something and how much duct tape they use.

That brings me to the tough part of whatever this is. Over the course of the 6 years I have done Science Olympiad I have been the builder and I have been the studier, I have been the leader and I have been the follower, I have won and I have lost, I have been vilified and I have been glorified, I have wanted to give up and I have wanted to do this forever. It has been a great ride, but I can’t do scioly.org forever, at some point I have to move on. I think this is one of those points. I think it’s time I move on to the next stage of my life. I don’t think I will ever really be able to give Science Olympiad up completely. I will probably help my team with certain things and I will probably still stick around the chat for a little longer and I’m sure I will still visit the boards every now and then. Who knows, I may end up volunteering at Nationals or States one of these days. But once you reach a certain point it is different to continue to hang around a community centered around an activity that you have basically ceased doing. I guess what I’m saying is goodbye scioly.org. Some of you are just starting your careers in Science Olympiad and others are nearing your last competition still others have stopped competing but continue to stay involved. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s the truth. No matter who you are, what state you come from, and whether your season ends after regionals or it goes all the way through nationals, you should never lose sight of why you are doing Science Olympiad. I know it is tempting to brag about all your achievements, but trust me it’s not worth it. There’s always going to be someone who has more and/or better achievements then you do and someone who is going to feel bad seeing all your accomplishments because they have nothing close to what you have. If you are a true Science Olympian the only reward you need are the memories of the great times Science Olympiad has brought you.

The tl;dr is don't worry about how many medals you win guys, just worry about how much fun you're having. If you didn't have fun at a competition, that is when you know you failed.

Those of you who did read it all the way through, I hope you don't think I've wasted your time with a bunch of empty cliches.
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please. - Mark Twain

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Re: Story Time

Post by foreverphysics » October 3rd, 2012, 11:35 am

Deep, pug...
I read it through.

And also:
starpug wrote:That brings me to the tough part of whatever this is. Over the course of the 6 years I have done Science Olympiad I have been the builder and I have been the studier, I have been the leader and I have been the follower, I have won and I have lost, I have been vilified and I have been glorified, I have wanted to give up and I have wanted to do this forever. It has been a great ride, but I can’t do scioly.org forever, at some point I have to move on. I think this is one of those points. I think it’s time I move on to the next stage of my life. I don’t think I will ever really be able to give Science Olympiad up completely. I will probably help my team with certain things and I will probably still stick around the chat for a little longer and I’m sure I will still visit the boards every now and then. Who knows, I may end up volunteering at Nationals or States one of these days. I guess what I’m saying is goodbye scioly.org.
What? What is this?
Even though I was--ah--never your favourite member of the site, but I do appreciate your effort in doing all that you have done for SO. In a way, I know how you feel. I was so very disappointed with my performance this past Nationals—the first time I competed as a team member, and the highest placing I got was 10th. I believe that I could have medalled had it not been for that huge mishap, but the point being...I can relate, and I agree with you. Through SO, I have lived more than I have any other way.

Goodbye pug, and good luck to you, whatever you’re doing next.
And don’t forget to socialise more. :P

Sigh...I don't think that what I said was in any way sufficient, but honestly...I think I really will miss you on the boards and chat.
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Re: Story Time

Post by Skink » October 3rd, 2012, 3:48 pm

We don't know each other, but I wanted to say I enjoyed reading about your SO career and what you, ultimately, took from the experience. Good luck in your future endeavors, STEM related or otherwise!

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Re: Story Time

Post by Cedavis6 » October 3rd, 2012, 3:57 pm

Good luck!
I will always remember S.O. for the good memories, don't worry.

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Re: Story Time

Post by tuftedtitmouse12 » October 3rd, 2012, 7:06 pm

Didn't get to know you much, but your last paragraph hit me.

Science Olympiad is only a short part of life, but it can impact what you are for the rest of your life. Science Olympiad is undoubtably rewarding, both in memories and the sheer joy of working so hard for something and knowing it paid off, but it has to end sometime. At least competing does.

But I guess, medals will fade, but it's the memories that count. I hope you've made wonderful memories, and wish you well on the next chapter of your life! Don't forget to take a peek back once in a while. (And definitely consider getting involved in Science Olympiad somehow.)
peter, peter, peter

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Re: Story Time

Post by iwonder » October 3rd, 2012, 8:07 pm

Well, there's really only one thing left to say...

Thanks.
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Re: Story Time

Post by EpicFailOlympian » October 4th, 2012, 5:37 am

Pug, I don't know why you never liked me much, (or is it you just like messing with me?) but I think I speak for all when thanking you for what you have done for this community. :)
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Re: Story Time

Post by awesome90220 » October 5th, 2012, 6:53 pm

R U quitting fantasy sports for scioly?
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Re: Story Time

Post by starpug » October 5th, 2012, 7:57 pm

awesome90220 wrote:R U quitting fantasy sports for scioly?
You wish
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