Norwin’s science specialists take on the Southwest Regional Science Olympiad

Norwin HS + MS qualify for state competition on April 22 at Penn State Altoona.


Matthew Anticole

The Norwin High School Science Olympiad team poses after winning 6th at the Southwest Regional Science Olympiad Competition.

Experimenting, engineering, reasoning, and test-taking: that is Science Olympiad. The Norwin High School Science Olympiad team placed sixth at the Southwest Regional Science Olympiad Competition on March 1 at PennWest California. 

Suhana Navalgund (11) and Amanda Anticole (12) work on final adjustments for their project. (Elizabeth Long)

The Science Olympiad team, a division of the Science Challenge Squad, is lead by physics teacher and club adviser Mr. Matthew Anticole. At the start of each school year, Anticole creates a fifteen person team out of the brightest STEM students Norwin has to offer. Before the selection process is completed, he ensures that they know exactly what Science Olympiad is and what will be expected of them. 

For the competition each student is assigned three to four events. They cover a wide range of subject matters, including but not limited to astronomy, rocks & minerals, epidemiology, forensics, and cell biology. Each student has a partner (or in some cases two) that they split responsibilities with. Depending on the parameters of the event, the students can be expected to design and create a device, study and memorize relevant information, or create experiments that go along with the topic.

Owen Orth (11) looks at his trajectory device before taking it to be tested. (Elizabeth Long)

At any Science Olympiad event, participants are scored on how well they answer questions or complete an assigned task. At the Southwest Regional competition, the top seven teams move on to the Pennsylvania Science Olympiad tournament. 

Norwin High School’s Science Olympiad team put in countless hours of preparation prior to the competition. This included participation in the virtual competition at the Dick Smith Memorial Invitational on Dec. 3, 2022. Not only did it give newer members a taste of what the regional competition would look like, but it also gave the team their first taste of victory. Having competed against 76 teams from all over the country, the participants didn’t have very high hopes. However, the team placed 42nd and received medals in two different categories. Seniors Amanda Anticole and Elizabeth Long placed 6th in Green Generation, an event focused on terrestrial ecosystems and the functioning of the Earth. Adyn Brown (11) and Elizabeth Long (12) placed 7th in Disease Detectives, an event centered on the spread and control of disease. 

Seniors Amanda Anticole and Elizabeth Long pose with their medals from the Dick Smith Memorial Invitational. (Elizabeth Long)

After the Dick Smith Memorial Invitational, the students had a better idea of what went well and what needed work on going forward into the regional competition. 

Come March 1, most of the team were rather nervous about competing. As eight of the fifteen members had never competed at the high school level, there were a lot of nerves and expectations going into the event. 

“Going into the regional competition, I was feeling a bit nervous,” Adyn Brown (11) said. “I had high expectations for two of my events, Disease Detectives and Scrambler, however, since my third event, Cell Biology, asks such specific questions, I wasn’t feeling completely confident.”

However, these nerves were quickly put to bed as soon as the students began competing. Much of their day at PennWest California consisted of testing their devices, answering questions, and trying to cross campus to get to their events on time. As always, the day was a fun one despite the stress that comes with competing. 

“My favorite part of the competition was definitely being able to talk and compete with like minded people with events that I was passionate about,” Arnav Bedekar (11) said. 

As with every competition, when the time came to sit down and hear the results, the team felt increasingly anxious. The students spent much of their time thinking about how many medals they received, and whether or not that would be enough to get them to the state competition. 

Overall I think the team performed very well. I think everyone encountered something that they were not expecting in at least one event but we still managed to perform well in most of the events and we made it to states.

— Senior Makenzie Krance

In no time at all, the team was pleasantly surprised that they placed sixth overall and were headed to the Pennsylvania Science Olympiad Competition at Penn State Altoona. 

“I really didn’t expect to make it to states, seeing as we had so many new teammates,” Science Challenge Squad President Amanda Anticole (12) said, “but I was very impressed with many of the new members!”

The team medaled top four in eight of the events. Makenzie Krance (12), Rex Wu (11), and Arnav Bedekar (11) placed 2nd in Experimental Design; Adyn Brown (11) and Elizabeth Long (12) placed 1st in Disease Detectives; Taylor Miller (11) and Hailey Crapser (11) placed 2nd in Anatomy; Adyn Brown and Taylor Miller placed 2nd in Scrambler; Amanda Anticole (12) and Elizabeth Long placed 4th in Green Generation; Lily Chaney (9) and Arnav Bedekar placed 1st in Rocks & Minerals; Owen Orth (11) and Jack Chaney (12) placed 2nd in Fermi Questions; and Makenzie Krance and Maddy Bulger (9) placed 2nd in Astronomy. 

On the bus ride home the students were already concocting plans on how they would do better at the state competition. 

“At regionals, I learned that every event counts,” Brown said. “Even if one event/team member does poorly, it can bring the whole team down. I will apply this to the state competition and be sure to be completely prepared for my events.”

Norwin Middle School students Jack, Alex, Avani, Deeksha, and Royce pose for picture before competing. The middle school Science Olympiad team placed 4th overall and will also be going to the state competition. (Brad Zundel)

Adviser Anticole is excited to see how the team performs at states. 

“We showed we can do well at Regionals,” Mr. Anticole said, “but at states you’re competing with the best schools and top STEM students from across Pennsylvania. What might have gotten you third place at PennWest California might not even crack the top 30 at States, so you have to really up your game if you want to stand even a chance at medaling. That means another month of practice, planning, and studying as teammates. There’s only so much time to invest, though, and sometimes that means letting some events go by the wayside in order to double our focus on other events where we want to punch into the top 10.”