The Hamilton High School Science Olympiad team earned the state champion title for the fourth year in a row at the annual tournament held at Montana State University in Bozeman on Friday, April 15th.
In Montana, the Science Olympiad is one of the largest science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions. Each year hundreds of students participate in events covering life sciences, chemistry, engineering and other topics.
HHS Head Coach Vanessa Haflich got HHS had 15 students on the varsity team competing in 14 different events and the victory was exciting.
“Every single varsity student medalled in at least one of their events,” Haflich said. “Which means they got first, second, or third in the whole state, which was pretty cool to see. I couldn’t have asked for more from this talented and dedicated team of students. I am so proud of them and excited to see them represent the state of Montana at nationals. ”
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The HHS team took first place over all other competing Montana schools and competitors also earned individual medals.
The HHS team had three seniors – Derek Twardoski took third place in both the Bridges and Write Stuff competitions; Cadogan Wheat took second place in the Detector Building and third place in the Codebusters competition; and Hunter Bonnes earned second in Detector Building and third in Codebusters.
The HHS team had six juniors – Colin Hanley earned first place in Disease Detectives and second in Wifi Lab; Zsomi Kari earned first in Disease Detectives, second in Wifi Lab and third in Codebusters; Fern Stewart earned first place in Experimental Design and fifth in Dynamic Planet competition; Sofie Lewanski earned first in Experimental Design and fifth in Dynamic Planet competition; and Em Courchesne earned first in Experimental Design and third in Remote Sensing.
The HHS team had two sophomores – Brooklyn Brown took third in Wright Stuff and second in Rocks and Minerals; and Emma Hollingsworth took second in Rocks and Minerals.
The HHS team had five freshmen – Elaina Lewis took third in Cell Biology and fourth in Environmental Chemistry; Tessa Lewanski took fourth in Environmental Chemistry and third in Remote Sensing; Sierra Berry took third in Bridges and third in Trajectory; Elli Harmon took third in Trajectory and Eleri Wheat took third in Cell Biology.
For seniors Twardoski, Wheat, and Bonnesr, this is their fourth time to experience a state Science Olympiad championship as they have won state every year in high school.
Haflich praised assistant coaches, Tom Schmidt and Mike Bonnes.
“The knowledge, experience and time they provided to these students played a huge role in the success of this year’s team,” she said.
HHS will compete in the 38th annual Science Olympiad National Tournament hosted in partnership with the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) from May 9-14 in a virtual format due to COVID.
“We will compete at nationals but we have to do it in a ‘satellite’ format on May 14 from Hamilton High School,” Haflich said. “Students will be competing through online platforms and video conferencing with judges. We don’t have to do fundraising but it is a logistical mess in terms of technology. Students will have to video chat with the judges, we’ll get it all figured out. ”
In Division C for high schools, Capital High in Helena took second place and Corvallis High School took third place. In Division B for middle school, Corvallis Middle School tied for second place with CR Anderson Middle School in Helena. To learn more about the Montana Science Olympiad, visit montana.edu/smrc/mtso/.