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Mrgreencacti was a student at Jeffrey Trail Middle School in the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 years. He joined Science Olympiad in his 8th-grade year (2017-2018) and was on the "Blue Team," or competition team for all competitions. He was part of the first generation of students at Jeffrey Trail to win first place in the Southern California State Tournament and advance to the National Tournament.

In the 2018-2019 year, he tried out and got onto the Portola High School Science Olympiad team as a freshman along with a lot of his other Jeffrey Trail peers. From there, he was chosen to be on the main competition team (the "A Team") for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 years, where he remains currently. At the moment, he is preparing for the rest of the competition season.

JT Socal
Jeffrey Trail wins first place in Southern California in 2018. Which one is Mrgreencacti?
PHS Team
Mrgreencacti poses with the rest of the Portola Science Olympians at the start of the 2018-19 season.

All Events

8th grade - 2017-2018

Competed In Did Not Compete In
Battery Buggy (filler) Dynamic Planet (filler)
Hovercraft Experimental Design
Thermodynamics Solar System

9th grade - 2018-2019

Circuit Lab
Fermi Questions
Wright Stuff (filler)

10th grade - 2019-2020

Circuit Lab
Experimental Design
Sounds of Music


8th Grade - 2017-2018

Competition Hovercraft Thermodynamics Battery Buggy
Kraemer Scrimmage 5th 2nd _
Ladera Vista Invitational 2nd 14th _
Mesa Robles Invitational 3rd 3rd _
Kraemer Invitational 3rd 5th 3rd
Regionals 4th 1st 1st
State 10th 2nd 9th
Nationals 7th 3rd 23rd

Note: From this point forth, Mrgreencacti will not have any placings at nationals because Troy exists.

9th Grade - 2018-2019

Competition Circuit Lab Fermi Questions Thermodynamics
Portola Scrimmage 1st 1st 1st
Mesa-Wilson Invitational 3rd 3rd 15th
Polytechnic Invitational 3rd 4th 1st
Regionals 5th 14th 3rd
State 10th 3rd 5th

10th Grade - 2019-2020

Competition Circuit Lab Machines Sounds of Music
SOLVI at Clark 8th 11th 1st
Polytechnic Invitational 1st 1st 1st
Regionals 17th 5th 4th
State _ _ _

Event Description and Experience

This section goes over the experience that Mrgreencacti had in each of his main events.


Mrgreencacti was in Hovercraft in 8th grade. He chose hovercraft mostly because the name sounded cool to him at the time. He started off learning the basics of what was on the rules and was taught by a certain unnamed mentor kinematics and collisions. This was his first exposure to physics. Around the same time, a hovercraft demonstration was done by a more experienced science Olympian. At the time, he mostly thought that it was loud.

Having been second best in weekly testing for the study portion of the event, Mrgreencacti was chosen to be on the blue team for Hovercraft. He continued to study the mechanical physics involved with the event, writing numerous practice tests and compiling the team's binder. He also spent many hours afterschool with his partner (who actually built the hovercrafts), testing, mainly for balance, arranging the penny stacks and bolts in different positions so that the hovercraft travelled the distance of 60 cm at around the target time of 15 seconds. It was frustrating work -- the hovercrafts were inconsistent in their performance, which varied greatly depending on the level of the batteries, which, upsettingly, ran out of power very quickly and had to be recharged frequently.

At his first ever invitational at Ladera Vista, Mrgreencacti (with the help of his partner) earned his first ever medal -- 2nd place. From there, they placed at every competition except for state (bad luck) and nationals (7th place!).


Mrgreencacti did Thermodynamics in 8th and 9th grade. Thermodynamics was the first event that Mrgreencacti built something for, as Thermodynamics was a hybrid event, with both a study portion, and a build portion.

Originally, Mrgreencacti chose this event also because the name sounded cool. He started to study the topics involved, such as heat transfer, phase change, temperature, heat, and even things he had never heard of before, like entropy. At the same time, he and another science Olympian started to work on the build portion of the event (separately). At the time, Mrgreencacti reasoned that it would probably be easier to make a stationary insulation box than a working, complicated hovercraft. He tested all sorts of materials and judged their performance during 30-minute tests, comparing the final temperatures of water inside and outside the box. He did this in competition with the other science Olympian, and the two regularly did these 30-minute tests on their own boxes that they filled with materials. These started from cotton balls and Styrofoam and advanced to polyurethane foam and Spaceloft aerogel. By the end, although Mrgreencacti's box was slightly less good (as proven by tests) than the other science Olympian, because his Kraemer Scrimmage scores were higher, he was chosen to compete in Thermodynamics for the Blue team, with another science Olympian who was a god at the study portion of the event.

At the first invitational, Ladera Vista, Mrgreencacti accidently did a construction violation. The polyurethane foam had expanded to above the height limit for the box, and pushing it down counted as a "modification." So they got 14th place and Mrgreencacti feared he would be kicked off the team. However, he stayed on the team and continued to place at all the invitationals and regionals.

By this point, the design for the box had been set in stone. A plywood box with layers of polyurethane foam inside, Spaceloft aerogel inside that, and reflective aluminum tape adjacent to the beaker with a polyurethane lid on top. With this box, he did over 200 total 300-minute tests, testing within the parameter ranges for temperature -- 60-90 degrees Celsius and 50-150 mL of water. After regionals, he devised a plan for the ice water bonus, which he would only use if the volume of water and initial temperature were significantly high enough to make a positive heat score tradeoff. This was tedious, and it was inconsistent throughout the entire process.

At state, Mrgreencacti and his partner got 2nd place, one-upping Kraemer Middle School. At nationals, they got 3rd place, and this will remain Mrgreencacti's first and last nationals medal ever. Memorably, their prediction for final temperature was only 0.6 degrees off; however, Kennedy claimed theirs was 0.1 off. Kennedy won 2nd.

Mrgreencacti continued with Thermodynamics in 9th grade. He developed a new method to predict final temperature -- using Newton's Law of Cooling and the exponential decay model that came with it. He did over a hundred tests and determined the k-value for cooling at different volume parameters (75-125 mL that year) and tested at different initial temperatures (60-75 degrees that year). Mrgreencacti was sad to learn that the ice water bonus that had helped out so much at state and nationals the previous year was not a part of the event that year.

Mrgreencacti also improved upon the design of the previous year. Division C Thermodynamics called for an even smaller box (15x15x15 cm compared to 20x20x20 cm for Division B). He took a thin cardboard box so as to not take up too much volume, and tested various polyisocyanurate (PIR) foams for insulation, eventually settling on Thermasheath from The Home Depot as a replacement for what had been polyurethane (PUR) foam the previous year. The layer of Spaceloft Aerogel stayed, and the lid was made of PIR (not Thermasheath, though) as well.

Mrgreencacti worked together with the original science Olympian from Jeffrey Trail who had been in direct competition with him the previous year and together, they placed at every competition except for Mesa-Wilson. Notably, their prediction for final temperature at state was 0.0 degrees off the actual value, but they still got 5th place.

Circuit Lab

After Hovercraft went out of rotation in his 9th grade, Mrgreencacti looked for another physics event to study for, and so he did Circuit Lab. He spent much of his two free periods at school writing notes for the event. He started by copying and pasting the study portion of the rules into a document. He took notes on every topic mentioned, organizing the notes by headers, subheaders, and even smaller subdivisions. He studied DC and AC power, Ohm's law, electrical properties such as resistance, current, voltage, and power, Kirchhoff's Laws, electric and magnetic field, capacitors, logic gates, operational amplifiers, RC circuits and more. He studied relevant definitions and wrote down countless formulas and equations. These notes, over the course of several months, grew and eventually he had covered all topic areas defined by the rules. He added a table of contents and this document of notes became the binder for Circuit Lab.

Circuit Lab also has a lab portion, separate from the study. This meant performing a hands-on task on-site such as constructing a solenoid, creating series and parallel circuits on a breadboard, lighting LEDs, measuring time constants of RC circuits, and more. Therefore, he studied ammeters, voltmeters, and ohmmeters, as well as bought his own breadboard kit to experiment with various components, such as batteries, resistors, capacitors, transistors, LEDs, buzzers, and more.

Mrgreencacti was eventually paired up with a partner with an even higher weekly testing average. They worked together at each competition and medalled in every competition except at state. Throughout the competitions, the pair studied their tests and took notes on new concepts in their binder to further broaden their knowledge.

In 10th grade, Mrgreencacti continued to participate in Circuit Lab, and by the end of weekly testing, he and the same partner were chosen to compete for the A team. They adjusted their binder to account for slight changes in the rules and continued to compete and acquire new knowledge and experience in the lab portion.

Fermi Questions

A "fermi question" is a question that seeks an immediate, imprecise estimate of a value. For example, how many piano tuners are in Chicago? At first, this might seem impossible to answer, especially without being given additional information. But using rough estimates and calculations, one can find an answer in the same order of magnitude as the true answer (the answer is 290).

In the Fermi Questions event, answers are given in powers of 10. Instead of writing "10^3," one would just write "3." Points are given based on how many orders of magnitude the answer is from the correct answer. Zero orders off is five points, one order off is three points, two orders off is one point, and any more orders off is no points.

Fermi Questions is notorious in SciOly for being unpredictable, not only in the content of questions but in placing as well. Generally, one can be "good" at Fermi Questions by knowing random facts and numbers (like the mass of the earth, distance of a light year, etc.), being familiar with factorials and logarithms, and knowing various physics constants (planck's, boltzmann's etc.). This is especially important since you cannot bring any materials (like cheatsheets or binders) to the event.

Most of the time, Mrgreencacti and his partner in Fermi Questions ripped the test apart and worked individually on halves of the test, then reconvened on particularly difficult problems. A lot of the time, they disagreed, so they had to compromise.


Sounds of Music

Trophy History

Note: Trophies shown were earned collectively on various teams that Mrgreencacti was a part of. These are by no means achievements of Mrgreencacti alone.

1st Mrgreencacti received a 1st place trophy at the 2018 Ladera Vista Invitational Tournament.
3rd Mrgreencacti received a 3rd place trophy at the 2018 Mesa Robles Invitational Tournament.
1st Mrgreencacti received a 1st place trophy at the 2018 Kraemer Invitational Tournament.
2nd Mrgreencacti received a 2nd place trophy at the 2018 Orange County Regional Tournament.
1st Mrgreencacti received a 1st place trophy at the 2018 Southern California State Tournament.
9th Mrgreencacti received a 9th place trophy at the 2018 United States National Tournament.
3rd Mrgreencacti received a 3rd place trophy at the 2019 Polytechnic Invitational Tournament.
4th Mrgreencacti received a 4th place trophy at the 2019 Orange County Regional Tournament.