Fort Loramie Science Olympiad Team Headed to State

The Fort Loramie Science Olympiad Team is headed to the state competition…for the second year in a row! On Saturday, March 18th, the Science Olympiad team participated in the Regional tournament against 14 other teams. Fort Loramie finished fourth place overall, earning the team a spot in the state competition on April 1 at The Ohio State University.

Each year there are around 310 teams in the state of Ohio, but only 40 of those move on to the state competition. In Science Olympiad, teams are not divided based on school size as they are in athletics; all high schools (regardless of size) compete against all other high schools, which makes qualifying, for a small school, that much more challenging.

Senior Luke Stager explained, “When we compete, we’re against smart kids from bigger schools with more resources. Beating them makes me feel more confident I can compete against other smart kids in college.”

This year’s Science Olympiad Team members included a mix of experience and newcomers: the senior leaders are Tom Ballas, Carlie Bergman, Nick Pleiman, and Luke Stager; juniors consist of Caitlin Bollheimer, Nate Hausfeld, Collin Luthman, Austin Meyer, and Chloe Scheer; sophomores are Joe Ballas, Lydia Stricker, and Charles Wray; and freshmen members include James Keller, Evan Luthman, Kaden Mescher, and Cole Pence.

In Science Olympiad there are 23 events, and for most events, two students from the team compete. Some events require students to build devices before competition and then perform a task with them at the competition, such as building a robot arm to move and flip pennies, building a rubber band powered helicopter to maintain a long flight, creating an efficient tower with low mass to support a heavy load, building an electric vehicle to travel quickly and end at a designated location, and creating a hovercraft that travels a specified distance.

Other events require students to study and prepare for a written or lab test; these subjects include Anatomy & Physiology, Astronomy, Chemistry Lab, Disease Detectives, Dynamic Planet, Ecology, Forensics, etc.

Lastly, there are events that require students to develop something on the spot. In the event, Game On, students create a computer game based on a given topic. Nick Pleiman, a senior on the team, described, “In each event there’s so much that could go wrong that it’s just blissful when it doesn’t.”

Invitational competitions to prepare for the Regional competition have contributed to the success of this year’s team; these competitions are generally far away and require students to be at school very early on a Saturday and dedicate the entire day to Science Olympiad. Coach Abby Lightle explained, “The New Albany Invitational is consistently one of the toughest Invitational we go to every year and we’ve never brought home awards in more than one or two events; this year we earned awards in 10 events and a team trophy.” The team has continually improved throughout the season and the hard work and dedication of students has paid off.

At Regionals, Fort Loramie brought home 10 medals, including three first place finishes:
* Anatomy & Physiology – 1st place, Luke Stager and Joe Ballas
* Disease Detectives – 5th place, Luke Stager and Joe Ballas
* Dynamic Planet – 6th place, Carlie Bergman and Lydia Stricker
* Electric Vehicle – 1st place, Nate Hausfeld and Charles Wray
* Hydrogeology – 3rd place, Tom Ballas and Collin Luthman
* Microbe Mission – 2nd place, Luke Stager and Joe Ballas
* Optics – 5th place, Tom Ballas and Austin Meyer
* Remote Sensing – 1st place Tom Ballas and Charles Wray
* Rocks and Minerals – 2nd place, Caitlin Bollheimer and Austin Meyer
* Towers – 5th place, Nick Pleiman and James Keller

Fort Loramie’s Science Olympiad Team would not be as successful as they are without the support of the parents and community throughout the season. Because Science Olympiad is an Academic Club, they have to raise funds to cover their own expenses. Coach Lightle expressed her gratitude by saying, “The financial support from Select Arc has been a huge contributor to our success the past few years; students don’t have to worry about raising funds to pay for supplies, the bus, the driver, or registration – they can focus on preparing to compete. Likewise, Dr. Mike Ballas, who has served as a volunteer coach, has been instrumental the past two years in helping students build devices for a few events and prepare some testing events; he’s always willing to help out and eager to help the students succeed.”

Congratulations to the students involved and good luck at State!