Is Science Olympiad worth it?

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cypressfalls Robert
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Re: Is Science Olympiad worth it?

Postby cypressfalls Robert » March 22nd, 2010, 8:57 pm

well if i think about it....i guess it was the best thhing ever
Last edited by cypressfalls Robert on March 22nd, 2010, 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is Science Olympiad worth it?

Postby ZekeBud » March 22nd, 2010, 10:04 pm

Science Olympiad is worth every moment, every hour, every setback and every devastating moment of disgust. That all sounds pretty bleak, doesn't it? I can't say that my days in S.O. were without blemish, even though I tend to remember them fondly. I remember that robot and how it owned my life while owning me. What was I thinking? I was always better at study events, so why did I even try to think about doing robot? Why didn't I take that extra risk spin on the scrambler and see if I could eke out the extra centimeters? Why did I put up with dealing with some people who I didn't know? Why didn't I quit when I felt so helpless in Cell Bio?

It is because of all of that stuff that I now see S.O. as the defining event of my high school career. While I was friends with many on the team to start, I was friends with all of them at the end. When you have to work together for so long, you learn people skills. At the start, I wasn't the most adept constructor in the world. Thanks to working on the robot and the scrambler, I have a better grasp on reality and I feel like I can push more boundaries. I didn't wilt under the pressure of competitions: I personally ate up every moment, transforming myself from a studious kid to a competitor with pride and hunger. I got leadership experience, and crucial balancing-act skills.

And that doesn't even begin to touch the learning aspect of it all. Through S.O. you get exposed to all sorts of information that you'd never see in a regular school setting. By managing to balance that extra info with the knowledge you need for regular school, you're putting yourself further ahead, improving your flexibility. You have to find new ways to organize information (binders) or get better at memorizing (Cell Bio). The facts and figures may not hold significance later, but the techniques certainly can.

Of course, I owe so much to Science Olympiad because it got me into college. I realize that I had good grades, but S.O. was that extra something that gave me direction. It was something good to be passionate about. It gave me that focus when I sat down to write admission essays and allowed me to describe honest triumphs over problems that others don't necessarily try to tackle. I'm convinced that without Science Olympiad, I wouldn't have had the courage to be an engineering major, and I may not have been accepted to so many great schools.

If you have that feeling of desperation and disgust: stop for a second, take a step back and look at what you've done. So people aren't working around you: are you putting forth an honest effort? Can you be proud of what you've done? Have you learned something different or tried something new? Have you dealt with adversity and still come out alive? Do you have a "war story" for the new kids in future years? I'm from New York, where if you're not right behind FM, there's no way you're going to nationals. In all my years, I could never have imagined my team making nationals. I guess in that respect, my team wasn't "super successful." Does that make Science Olympiad a failing effort for me? I'd argue that everything that came from S.O. more than makes up for any shortcomings. In the end, the process and complete learning experience is way more valuable than any medal.
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Re: Is Science Olympiad worth it?

Postby cypressfalls Robert » March 22nd, 2010, 10:32 pm

:cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry:

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Re: Is Science Olympiad worth it?

Postby gh » March 23rd, 2010, 1:11 am

Everyone else seems to have covered the team aspect of SO, but my experience was quite different. I wasn't on super competitive teams, I've never been to nats, and I never had a coach for my events.

What I got out of SO was experience, the experience, and experiences. When I first joined scioly.org, which is not long after I started doing SO, I was of course very young. :) I joined so I could find out more about Wright Stuff. I posted dumb posts, I didn't always read or search before posting, and I even spammed. It took a long time for me to really get straightened out, but now I'm admin (yo wtf? BTW, I bet DS regrets it). But the point is, spending time with my two terrific teams and a community like this actually helped me grow up.

I also learned a good 80% of what I know about building things, everything about electronics, and a lot about computers from SO work. For example, just on this forum there was a little incident where I tried to imitate relpats-eht's avatar. It taught me a bunch about image compression, making animated GIFs, and image palettes. Now I'm working in and studying computer graphics; I might even make it my living.

It wasn't just technical stuff I learned. One of the more useful skills I learned was how to learn. More specifically, how to learn when you're not in school and you have no teacher. I never had a coach that knew my events better than I did, and in high school, I didn't have a coach at all; it was a wholly student-run team (another story :). Everything SO I learned I had to learn on my own from this site, books, and anything else I could get my hands on. This left me the question of summers.

I loved SO. But there were no rules out in the summer. One might think, naïvely, that he should spend the summer building to the previous season's rules. No. First off, it's important to take a vacation. Get some downtime, even if it's less appealing than SO because of your burning lust for winning next year (which you should definitely have).

Then, my project for the summer would have nothing to do with SO at all, and would be as difficult and time-consuming (and more!) than the summer or my experience could possibly afford. My three summer projects in high school were, in reverse order: (1) Put a vision-based guidance system for my robotics helicopter (2) Build a quadrotor helicopter while hacking OS X to run on PCs (3) Build a quadriped robot.

I almost never got the projects done by the time school started; we NYC kids got stuck with the same school schedule as upstate NY kids, minus the not insignificant snow days, having had perhaps two of those in my ten years of service under the NYCDOE. So we had very short summer vacations.

Still, whatever it was I did in the summer, I was guaranteed that I could successfully use it in the next season. If you spent the summer building a better battery-and-motor cart with wheels, you might learn how to make your next cart go straighter and truer. You spend the summer building a robotic helicopter, or even trying to build a robotic helicopter, and you'll learn how to design your next cart in 3D parametric CAD, precision machine it from impact-resistant PETG, and code a proportional control loop for its C-programmed microcontroller so you can hit arbitrary run times, distances, and targets just by punching in numbers. And do it cheaply too; my parents are not wealthy and didn't really like me spending money on robots. :)

When you have off time, don't waste it on work; do something you absolutely never thought of doing, but that you might like. Sing, play Ultimate with your team, try to increase the definition of your abs. At some point, I was figuring out how to keep as accurate time as possible. It netted me a neat watch and knowledge I was proud of. Then it got turned into an event. bah got me to start playing with fountain pens. My first fountain pen ever will be in my hand in a few days.

And finally to cap this post, which has winded far too verbose already, I learned quality from SO. You know the real difference between a family-owned German company and a Chinese manufacturing mega-corporation? The German company tries to create a quality product and lets it attract the money. The Chinese corporation looks to the bottom line first—quality comes second (or even later than that). Quality needs to come first in SO, and the medals will follow naturally.

I built with more quality than was needed in the first place. My description of the aforementioned "cart" was of my 2009 EV. It was pretty overkill, to be honest, considering I didn't expect my team to make it beyond NY states (it didn't). However, it worked out pretty well. I beat FM with a gold medal and they got second in EV at Nats, so it was like I got second at Nats (I didn't).

Sometimes it doesn't work out. My WS planes in 2007 used rolled tubes and were biplane designs. I was really ambitious and didn't completely know what I was doing. Yet somehow, all the tubes I rolled that year had zero curvature. That is just f'ing magical, if you understand what I'm talking about. They really didn't end up flying all that well, though that may be because I was spending less time on WS that year than before, but they were pigeon impressive. I was proud of my planes even if they didn't net me the medal which I wasn't aiming for in the first place. Heck, my states plane from that year is still the example photo on the Wright Stuff Wiki.

I won either way, because quality was on my side, because I knew I grew up on it all, and because I knew more than the suckers who didn't do SO. So if you're a senior this year, don't feel like you have to win and cap your career with a bang. Go to competition with open eyes and make some memories while you reminisce on the good times past. All my teammates know as well as I do I got that gold medal caring zero about it (mostly because of getting rejected from MIT days before, but also for all the reasons I mentioned above). Don't forget to wipe your tears when you take your bus home—or plane, car, train, boat...

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Re: Is Science Olympiad worth it?

Postby EpicFailOlympian » April 25th, 2010, 12:14 pm

Was about to say no, but after reading gh's post I will say reluctantly say yes...
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Re: Is Science Olympiad worth it?

Postby blue cobra » April 25th, 2010, 2:49 pm

Absolutely.

Science Olympiad is probably the most stressful thing in my life. In the days before States, I'm exhausted more often than I'm not, I get neck pains and I've gotten nosebleeds before, but I wouldn't give it up for anything. I'm pretty competitive, so not getting that medal I'm perfectly capable of (WS last year... first place was 2:10, I was consistently getting 2:00) can be devastating, but in the end I think of all that I've learned, and it's not so bad that the medal went home with someone else. I learned a lot about aeronautic engineering, much more than any of my friends, I learned about construction, keeping weight down, and testing. Through Crave the Wave I've learned how to prioritize and effectively learn on my own (good when you have the worst teacher you have ever had in your life). From Elevated Bridge I've developed an obsession with precision, and expect the most from myself. Through all the anguish Science Olympiad has been the most amazing experience of my life- I now know I'll be an engineer- and there's still three more years to go!
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Re: Is Science Olympiad worth it?

Postby gneissisnice » April 25th, 2010, 4:03 pm

I'm almost done with my first year of college, and I can safely say that Science Olympiad was by far the most useful thing in high school. Interestingly enough, the other two important things, I feel, were Academic Team and playing in the Pit orchestra for our musicals. That's right; my extracurriculars were far more valuable than any of the actual classes I took. There's the whole social aspect for all three; having a leadership position, socially interacting with other people, working on a team. But Science Olympiad is a huge help academically. I mentioned this before, but I'm an Earth Science major, and as a freshman, I'm taking Mineralogy, an upper division elective. Most kids in my class are seniors, yet I have the highest grade in the class, thanks to 3 years of Rocks and Minerals. I had a huge advantage being able to ID 90% of the minerals we had to know, and knowing many of the properties, and I had also done a little research on crystal systems for the event, so I ended up being very knowledgeable about many things. It's funny; a lot of the seniors in the class ask me for help even though they're a few years older than me. A few of them even told me that they regret not doing science olympiad in high school.

So while the social aspect was very rewarding (Im still in contact with my scio friends, including those still in the high school), the academic aspect was immensely helpful. In many areas, I'm doing very well with little studying because I've done all the studying years ago for science olympiad. So yeah, it's definitely worth it.
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Fossils: 1st @ reg. 3rd @ states (stupid dinosaurs...) 5th @ nats.
Dynamic: 1st @ reg. 19thish @ states, 18th @ nats
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Enviro Chem: 39th @ states =(
Cell Bio: 9th @ reg. 18th @ nats
Remote: 6th @ states 3rd @ Nats
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Re: Is Science Olympiad worth it?

Postby paleonaps » April 25th, 2010, 4:12 pm

Yes.

It depends on the kind of person you are. I have always wanted to be a paleontologist, and last year was a godsend for me with fossils. I had done Amphibians the previous year (it was the closest to dinosaurs I could get) and I was okay. I got 5th at my regional tournament. But the A team was better, and I was subordinated to the status of alternate. It was crushing, but I vowed to get first in fossils the next year while I talked to the coach. And I did. I got first at Invitationals, Regionals, and States. I got third at nationals. However, this year I was not able to do Fossils due to conflicts with Anatomy and other events. However, Science Olympiad comes with many sacrifices. I have little to no social life (outside of Scioly and the team, of course), never can fully relax, etc. I think that despite the stress of the building events and studying endlessly, the experience of SciO is worth it from the friends and knowledge you've made.
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Farewell Science Olympiad. We will meet again.

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Re: Is Science Olympiad worth it?

Postby cypressfalls Robert » April 25th, 2010, 6:15 pm

I feel depressed right now, I joined So in my junior year at high school (tryed out in 6th grade but failed the test :( ) and now after getting third at state and not going to nationals It sucks. And to add to that I graduate in 28 days :cry: :cry: I don't even care about the competition I just love the trips, interacting with my friends and just having fun.

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Re: Is Science Olympiad worth it?

Postby Jocool » April 26th, 2010, 12:53 pm

well, ive learned a lot, made friends and gotten medals/pride, and found this website. so its worth it.
Go to Jocool's Userpage for my results.

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