Science Olympiad: So Much Information, So Much Fun

  • Voices
Science Olympiad: So Much Information, So Much Fun
Grace Vande Berg ’20 and Jacob Crater ’20

Grace Vande Berg ’20 and Jacob Crater ’20 reflect on the experience of preparing for and participating in the intense science competition.


The Upper School’s Science Olympiad teams recently competed at the NC Science Olympiad Raleigh Regional Tournament, winning medals in 12 events (nine varsity, three JV), including two first-place wins in the varsity field, and 20 students won individual medals. 

The competitions, which pit students against teams from other schools, feature 23 different events that require a range of knowledge and know-how — including laboratory skills, communication and logical planning skills, and building devices or machines. 

Grace Vande Berg ’20 and Jacob Crater ’20 won two medals as a team this year, for Ornithology and Dynamic Planet, in addition to participating in other events. Here, they reflect on the experience of preparing for and participating in the competition.

I have participated in Science Olympiad four times, and I have been a club leader for the past two years. My focus has always been on test events, and this year, I competed in three events: Ornithology, Codebusters and Dynamic Planet. 

For Codebusters, my partners and I learned about different ciphers and worked on encrypting and decrypting messages. This is tricky, but a lot of fun! This year, there were several new ciphers, and I even learned Morse code to use two of them. For Dynamic Planet and Ornithology, I partnered with Jacob. These events both took a lot of work to prepare for, but having a partner always makes research more fun. By the time of the event, I could easily identify each of the 63 birds for Ornithology, while Jacob was the expert on oceanography for Dynamic Planet. Our hard work was worth it, and we took fifth place in both of these events.

As a club leader, it was my job to help others prepare for their events. I went to the coaches’ clinic in October to learn more about a variety of events, and with all of my notes, I was able to give people tips on builds and organizing information sheets. We continued our tradition of Saturday workshops to give people the opportunity to meet and work with their partners on event preparation. I enjoyed watching the entire team work hard and seeing their efforts pay off come the award ceremony. I will definitely miss Science Olympiad next year!

— Grace Vande Berg ’20

This year, as a senior, I participated in Science Olympiad for the first time. Being friends with Grace, I knew a little about the event, some general information about Science Olympiad and its structure, and some about the individual events; but in many ways I did not know exactly what I was signing up for. Thankfully, I was signing up for a lot of fun! 

In many ways it was very challenging. I participated in three events — Codebusters, Ornithology and Dynamic Planet — and each involved a lot of preparation. For each of these events, my partners and I had to begin preparing and learning the material early. To master these concepts we had to begin learning and creating our “cheat sheets” months in advance. It took a lot of effort and time, yet I enjoyed every moment of it! I loved learning about all the different kinds of birds (so many birds), many I didn't know about before; I loved learning more about the ocean and oceanography, from salinity to waves to underwater geography; and I relished the success of figuring out ciphers and decrypting or encrypting messages. The events themselves were also a blast! While, yes, they were all test events, it was still very enjoyable testing my knowledge and puzzling through the difficulties with my partner. 

I loved Science Olympiad and I wish I could do it again!

— Jacob Crater ’20