The Ann Arbor Region is one of the most competitive regions in Michigan for Science Olympiad. Saturday, Saline had an excellent showing tallying six gold medals and seven silver medals in 23 events. Out of 23 events Saline placed in 21. Still that was not enough to keep the Regional trophy in Saline. Saline finished third as a team behind Pioneer and Huron ending an 8 year win streak. A very slim 8 points separated first to third place.
“I was really proud of our team today. We had event high/bests for many of our build events today," said Saline coach Nath Akella. "The region is still really tough and it could have gone to any of us. I am really excited to see our Region get stronger and more competitive as it’s really important to me that we get as many kids involved in STEM as possible."
Akella said Saline knew Pioneer had the advantage.
"We knew Pioneer had a 17 to 6 event advantage and we knew we were close in nine of the 17, so our goal in March was to prepare as well as possible so we could flip those back to Saline. Saline improved dramatically, but fell short by three events. So it was really tight," Akella said.
Still, a third place finish guarantees advancement to the State Championship in April and the team hopes to improve upon last year's seventh place finish.
Another bright spot was the Saline Middle School team had an especially strong showing. The middle school finished fifth. However, third fourth and fifth were separated by one point each. The middle school missed qualifying by two points.
"It’s a huge year over year improvement and one that is exciting for the long term. With the addition of the elementary program for grades 2 to 5, the program will be very exciting to watch for many years to come," Akella said.
The Science Olympiad program at SHS continues to grow.
"This has been a special year, we have grown the high school program by nearly 50 percent. We have nine mentors who are experts in their fields all helping with showing materials and we have decent commitment. Based on the projections for 2017-18, the team will likely add a third competition team which would allow for much more flexibility in event choices," Akella said.
The team departs SHS on April 28 after school. Parents, friends and well-wishers are invited to join the team for a send-off.
An info session will be held in late May. As always, students can join all year.