In 2016 after winning the Regional Championship Saline High School’s Science Olympiad Team completed a very successful year with a strong 7th place showing at the State Tournament. Over 200 teams vie to be one of the two Michigan Teams that compete at the National Championship. Last Year, State Champion Northville and Runner-up Troy represented Michigan.
The Science Olympiad team competes in 23 events from building events to events in biology, chemistry and earth sciences. As Saline’s team has evolved, the mission goal of the team has also evolved. Saline’s first mission is to share science and technology with anyone who is interested, no matter their ability. The team has grown by nearly 50% this year and supports two teams within the team. Each team has a different philosophy. The Main team is the competition team and has a goal of bringing home the trophies to the high school. Students compete and earn individual medals while earning points for the team. The Experience Team has been designed to allow students to pursue multiple activities and to allow flexibility in schedules. Students must be selected to the competition team and meet certain expectations but everyone is welcome on the experience team and the requirements are less stringent.
Still there is a lot of work to be done. For a school the size of Saline, it is more typical to have three teams rather than the current number of two so growing to the correct size is a short term goal. In fact, some schools have cuts and try-outs. Fortunately, in Saline the policy will be no cuts ever. This year everyone is in the events they have chosen and much of the decision making is led by the students with oversight from the coaches.
Some other exciting changes occurred in the coaching staff. Aside from assistant coach Don Winsor an electrical engineering professor at Michigan who is the longest tenured coach, we also have now added eight other mentors allowing for students to learn from experts in the area. The local mentors include faculty from UofD, staff and faculty from UofM, Ford engineering, owners of two local businesses, and a member of the public health department. In addition to the local mentors, SHS Science Olympiad has recently added mentors from the USGS in Denver and a mentor from Grumman Aerospace from LA. The coaches are also very grateful to the faculty of SHS especially Ms. Sparks who has often spent her personal time helping the team. We are always open to new mentors, a hands-on aviation person would be especially helpful this year.
The high school team has had some very generous donors including Mi Zarape, Joyful House, Busch’s, Ford, UofM, Amcor, GDI, Quantum Signal, and anonymous donors. Saline Schools have also been very generous in the support of the team and the support of the faculty has been outstanding. The funding has allowed the team to travel to top Ohio events, has paid for transportation and has allowed for the addition of a resource library. The Foundation for Saline Area Schools also provided a grant that allowed for students to use equipment in the hands on building portion of events.
Saline has traveled to Toledo and Cleveland already this season in warm up tournaments. Saline faced state champions from five states at the end of January at Wright State University and was very competitive- even considering several absences due to Solo and Ensemble. After Wright State, Saline traveled to Solon, Ohio to face the Ohio State champion and the top teams from Ohio. Saline then finished the regular season with trips to Frankenmuth and Ionia to complete preparation for Regionals. Saline finished 2nd at Ionia and 8th at Frankenmuth, which was very good considering SHS did not compete in all the events that day.
The Ann Arbor region is particularly competitive and it continues to increase in competition. Saline has an 8 year winning streak, but this year Huron is looking particularly strong having beat Saline at both Ohio Tournaments already. Pioneer has also beat Saline head to head at Ionia. So, the team has a tough journey this year and must work hard.
Fortunately, the commitment is decent this year, but the team is young and has a large learning curve. With more effort, Saline hopes to close the gap to continue representing this region. Many people know Saline’s elite athletic programs. Science Olympiad is determined to remind the state and the nation that Saline is also an elite academic high school, one we represent with enormous pride.
The regional championship is March 25th at Hillsdale College. If Saline advances, the State Championship is April 29th at Michigan State University.
Science Olympiad is open to new membership year round. Main team meetings occur Wednesdays 5:30-7:30PM and Sundays 1-3PM at SHS in C327. Anyone in 8th grade and up interested is encouraged to visit. All are welcome!