‘We love science’: Old Rochester Science Olympiad team takes win

Mar 14, 2023

MATTAPOISETT — When Old Rochester Regional High School students Eva Hartley and Mackenzie Luong walked into the competition for “mystery architecture” at the Massachusetts Science Olympiad State Tournament on March 4, they didn’t know what they signed up for.

“I was really intrigued because we didn't know what that event was coming into it,” said Hartley. “And we didn't even really sign up for that event. It was on the schedule, and we said ‘oh, this seems fun.’”

As Hartley and Luong would discover, the competition involved teams constructing towers out of an index card, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks and straws. The team with the highest tower that could support the weight of a metal nut would be the winner.

“The first thing we noticed was that every other group had scissors and a ruler,” said Hartley. “We didn't have the materials these other schools had [but] we were just having fun with it.”

But despite not knowing the rules of the competition, they walked out with the first place prize, constructing a 53 centimeter-tall tower, beating out their competitors.

Old Rochester’s Science Olympiad team is a 13-person competitive group that travels to local colleges and schools to compete in academic challenges that range from cell biology to engineering.

“For people who are passionate about science, [the Science Olympiad] is a way for them to show off their talent and ability and also just enjoy what they love doing,” said Old Rochester student Jacob Hadley. “This may sound like the nerdiest thing ever, but like we love science.”

Hadley and his partner Old Rochester student Allison Winters took home fifth place in the “Green Generation” competition, which tested competitors' knowledge of environmental science.

Since it was founded this year by Hadley, the club has participated in competitions at UMass Amherst and Yale University.

According to Hartley, the competitions at UMass and Yale were more difficult than the state tournament, which

Hadley hopes to continue building the school’s Science Olympiad program by adding structured meet and practice times which will let the team enter competitions with more preparation.

“We didn't have a lot of time to sit down and study material and figure out the format of each event — we just had to go into each tournament not really knowing what we were doing,” said Hadley. “But in a way like that was also fun because everything was a surprise and we just got to learn through the experiences that we had.”