School teams from Ohio and as far away as Miami, Fla., attended the Solon Invitational Science Olympiad at the high school and middle school Saturday.
In total, 700 students in 47 teams from 29 schools competed at the middle school, and 675 students in 45 teams from 29 schools participated in the high school competition.
Solon High School and Solon Middle School each hosted 23 events. Throughout the schools, students competed with mechanical devices ranging from hand-built cars transporting raw eggs to rubber-powered, balsa-wood helicopters seeking record flight times, and took tests in subjects such as anatomy, chemistry and the solar system.
Both Solon teams are legendary. The middle school team won six consecutive national Science Olympiad tournaments, including the last three as twin victors with Solon High School’s team. The three-peat by two district schools is unprecedented in the 29-year history of the Olympiad national tournament.
The teams are continuing their momentum. Solon Middle School’s two teams came in first and sixth place respectively, with individual students garnering six gold medals, eight silver medals and many more awards. Overall, Meads Mill Middle School in Northville, Mich., came in second place; J.C. Booth, in Peachtree City, Ga., third; Daniel Wright Junior High School in Lincolnshire, Ga., fourth; and Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh, fifth.
Solon High School traditionally does not post its scores while serving as host. Of the guest schools, Northville High School came in first; Mentor, second; Mason, in Warren County, third; Northwestern Lehigh, in Pennsylvania, fourth; New Albany, near Columbus, fifth; and Kenston, sixth.
Brand new head coaches this year are Bryan Drost at the middle school and Nicole Geiger at the high school. Dr. Drost, a Solon Spanish teacher who has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction, replaced Drew Kirian, who retired after coaching the team for 26 years. He assisted with Science Olympiad for several years and works with veteran assistant coach Nevin Voll, a certified teacher.
Ms. Geiger, who replaced longtime coach Donna Ross, teaches honors biology and environmental science at the high school. Her assistant coach is also new: Bridget Eickmeier, who teaches Advanced Placement environmental science and general biology.
“It’s going really well,” Ms. Geiger said, taking a moment in the Solon team room amidst her hosting duties. “I walked into a well-established program with awesome kids and parents. I’ve been learning a lot and getting great help from my assistant coach and captains. We have a great future ahead.”
Hosting an invitational requires a myriad of duties from registration to running events, scoring, scheduling and providing food service for students, coaches, chaperones and judges.
Getting those tasks accomplished “is all about relationships – whom you can connect with inside the school and outside the school to get things done for kids,” Dr. Drost said.
Both coaches praised the dedicated parents who volunteer at both schools, as well as their teams.
“Everyone has fun, everyone is self-motivated and everyone puts in the effort because we want to,” said senior Jonathan Chai, who serves as co-captain with senior Tyler Eston. At Science Olympiad, he said, “You get to try new things and learn about different parts of science you wouldn’t think to study.”
Solon Middle School gold medalists included ninth-grader Michael Zhan and sixth-grader Michelle Dong, who built their own musical instruments from scratch for the Sounds of Music event.
“You have to build two instruments of different ranges,” said Michael, a piano and viola player who built a hammer dulcimer. “They have to be different types of instruments.” The students also had to perform a required and chosen melody in competition.
Michelle, who plays violin, piano and clarinet, made and decorated a harp. “I thought it was cool,” she said about the project.
The Solon Middle School team, headed by co-captains Jonathan Wang and Zach Stanik, had several other gold medalists: Stephanie Wand and David Feng in Boomilever; Zach Stanik and Vishal Sundaram in Heredity; Jonathan Wang and Timothy Yi in Water Quality; Anushree Aneja and Jonathan Wang in Write It, Do It; and Sydney Bolomey and Albert Zhu in Can’t Judge a Powder.
Several local schools competed. Among those participating at the high school, Kenston received the gold medal for Bungee Drop and Materials Science, a silver medal in Circuit Lab and third place in Mission Possible; Chardon came in first for Astronomy and Dynamic Planet, second for Bungee Drop and Disease Detective, and third for Entomology; University School teams scored second and third place in GeoLogic Mapping and third place in Experimental Design; and Beachwood took third place in Water Quality.
“I enjoy watching kids win medals and seeing the enjoyment of the kids,” said Kenston alumni parent Dave Rutana. Kenston teams were also assisted at the high school by head coach Tony Solitro, materials engineer Larry Graham and other volunteers.