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Sandy Journal

Waterford places second, earns professionalism award at state Science Olympiad competition

Aug 11, 2023 09:53AM ● By Julie Slama

In Cedar City, Waterford School’s Science Olympiad team took second place at the state championship and were awarded the Path to Professionalism Award. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

Shortly before graduating from Waterford School, Rohit Singh reflected on his year as the school’s Science Olympiad captain and performance of the team.

“Students learned how much fun we had the previous year at our tournaments and the bond we had as a team, so it influenced people in joining,” he said. “We had about 35 people on the team before and this year, we introduced it to our middle school division, so it grew to 60. We’re the biggest club at Waterford and we had even more fun.”

And success.

This year, the team competed both in person as well as online.

“We wanted the newer people to get a feel for what tournaments are like and to see which events they liked. They prepared us for more rigorous tests as the season progressed,” he said.

In Utah, the team traveled to competitions in Davis County, where the upper teams won, and the middle school team placed second. The senior team then won the competition it traveled to at Snow College.

The upper division then took second at state, and the middle division placed third, which nearby schools — St. John the Baptist Middle, Juan Diego Catholic High and Hillcrest High — also took part in; it was held in April at Southern Utah University.

At state, the middle division team earned four first-place finishes; three second places; and two third places. The upper division took five first places, six second places and two third places.

Singh has competed in several events, but focused major competitions in anatomy and experimental design. 

“I like anatomy best. I’ve been competing in it the past two and one-half years and it’s what I want to pursue in the future,” said the future neurologist who will study at John Hopkins University this fall. “Experimental design is also one that I really love, because it tests your problem-solving and critical-thinking skills in 15 minutes. I want to do research in the future too, so I think knowing what the experiment takes and knowing how to write about is essential for that.”

Singh learned his passion extends back to entering science fair contests in grade school.

“My third-grade science experiment focused on global warming. The next year, I did a hydroelectric power plant and in sixth grade, electrochemistry. I loved all of it and I realized that, doing experiments is something that I really love, and it teaches me a lot about how the world works. I appreciate learning about so many things and that’s also the experience I’ve had with Science Olympiad. I like learning beyond the academic curriculum in school where we’re limited to traditional biology, chemistry and physics classes. This allows us to go more in-depth on a subject that I have a passion for,” he said.

Singh gets to know others who have similar interests, both at his school and at other competing schools, and has the support of his team.

“We’re all super close and support each other. We received the Path to Professionalism Award at the state tournament and it was because of how much we respect each other, how much we have fun together and how comfortable we are with each other. An important part of doing well at tournaments is having a good chemistry with your teammates,” he said, adding that they help each other prepare for their contests. “I was hoping we’d win this year and get to nationals since it’s my last year, but I think it’s important that we did our best and had this rewarding experience. I’ve gotten to encourage our middle schoolers to be part of this amazing experience and to see them grow. As a captain, listening to them and seeing their true potential was truly awesome.”

The team’s adviser, Daniel Osipovitch, was happy with the team’s performance.

“The points between third and first at state were very close, a very slim margin,” he said. “Our students worked hard and because we had three teams within Waterford, there was a lot of competition because we can only bring the top 15 kids on each team to state. Our students are really motivated. They’re already preparing for next year. These students care; they want to do well. They’re passionate, competitive and have a sense of pride. It shows the level of education we have here and the attitude of our students.”

Their success wasn’t without a few bumps along the way.

“Some of our students built something and they didn’t read or didn’t follow a rule. That hurt them. There was disappointment, but it allowed them to learn and grow and make things better for the state tournament. They also got the support of their teammates and that bond deepened,” Osipovitch said.

Waterford’s team has grown since it began in 2018-19 with five students.

“It began to grow, but then COVID put a damper on the program. It continued, but not as strong. A lot of the tournaments were online, and students just didn’t have as much fun with it,” Osipovitch said. “Rohit was a younger student then and he saw the beginnings of our team, but he saw the trajectory and has led this team and built it up. He’s created the culture and with our new science building we’ll be in next fall, Science Olympiad, which is an extension of our science program, is going to become more robust and we’ll have more resources for our team. I’m proud of how our team has competed, but I’m equally as proud of our team’s professionalism award. It really speaks well of our students and of the community that we have at Waterford.” λ