The brightest students from Socorro High School, Sarracino Middle School, and Cottonwood Valley Charter School scored a big win at the Science Olympiad regional in Silver City on January 25. The middle schoolers of CVCS and Sarracino took first and second, respectively and the high school team took first in its division.

The three teams will now be competing with other New Mexico schools at the 2020 Science Olympiad state finals on Saturday, Feb. 22, at New Mexico Tech.

Each team can have up to 15 members, with two “intelletes” competing in most competitions. The winning teams in both the middle school and high school levels will represent New Mexico at the 2020 National Science Olympiad, May 15 at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. The three Socorro schools competed in the Southwest Regional Science Olympiad Competition at Western New Mexico University on January 25.

Socorro High School’s 15 member Science Olympiad team won first place at the regional competition in Silver City.

Socorro won first place in Anatomy and Physiology, Boomilever, Codebusters, Designer Genes, Disease Detective, Experimental Design, Machines, Ornithology, Ping Pong Parachute, and Protein Modeling.

Socorro won second place in Chemistry Lab, Forensics, Gravity Vehicle, and Wright Stuff.

A third place award went to Fossils.

Guiding the Socorro team is Coach Azza Ezzat and Assistant Coach Tori Finlay.

“The students have to put the efforts and the time to achieve their goals,” Ezzat said in an interview. “We meet most of the week during the school hours and after school and also on Saturdays whenever possible.”

She said the students are also engaged in other extracurricular activities and need to study their events and other school assignments and work at home too.

“Science Olympiad competition is an excellent extracurricular activity that includes STEM events which enrich our students academically and prepare them for college,” she said.

Ezzat points out that the preparation for this collegiate-level competition exposes students to technology that they wouldn’t otherwise encounter. It helps them develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, and introduces them to different concepts needed to excel in college.

“In addition,” Ezzat said. “Students are recognized for their academic endeavors, inspiring them to remain on a long-term path towards a STEM profession.

Several Socorro High team members took on more than one event:

  • Jeremiah Avery - Gravity Vehicle, Ping Pong Parachute, Protein Modeling
  • Skyler Bunning – Boomilever, Gravity Vehicle
  • Rose Carilli – Anatomy and Physiology, Designer Genes, Experimental Design, Forensics
  • Cody Johnston – Codebusters, Machines
  • Kiana Jones – Disease Detectives, Protein Modeling
  • Chandler Lyon – Chemistry Lab, Codebusters, Forensics
  • Tanya Makhnina – Anatomy and Physiology, Chemistry Lab, Designer Genes, Experimental Design, Ornithology, Protein Modeling
  • Jacee Miranda – Disease Detectives
  • Kilee Mounyo – Fossils
  • Finn Parker – Ornithology
  • Rio Sessions - Experimental Design, Machines
  • Gavin Spitz – Boomilever, Ping Pong Parachute
  • Lily Stover – Fossils, Wright Stuff
  • Elias Zheng - Codebusters
  • Dayzie Whitehorse - Wright Stuff

“We're really looking forward to the state competition,” Finlay said.

Cottonwood Valley Charter School registered two teams for the regional in Silver City, as they have done for the last several years. CVCS Coach is Tommie McSherry.

“There were 23 students - nearly half of our middle school students - who studied high school level science concepts, built devices including cars, boomilevers, and balances, or learned science lab/computer science techniques/skills to prepare for this competiton,” McSherry said. “This is the second year where young ladies are the majority for CVCS, which is exciting since data shows young ladies tend to lose interest, or perhaps are not supported, in STEM.”

Practice began in October, and most students attended the two hour practices twice a week as well as study at home.

“As a coach I had several others supporting me and the students in their events, including my husband Greg Spitz, and have a wonderfully supportive administrator, colleagues, and parent group,” she said. “In addition to preparing for competition, students were also busy fundraising.”

The week before the competition can be chaos.

“Students anxiously await the schedule, and often there are conflicts in the schedule and students have to choose what events they will participate in and which to drop.”

Most events last 50 minutes, except for the “build” events like Ping Pong Parachute, Mousetrap Vehicle, Mission Possible (a Rube Goldberg style apparatus), Elastic Launched Glider, and Boomilever, which can happen in 15 minutes or less.

“If you are in six events for the day, as some students wish to be, you don’t even have time for lunch,” she said. “Plus, it can be heartbreaking to find out that your two favorite events are running in the same time slot. We had several conflicts and rearrangements to make for the event this year, but everyone kept their chin up and did their best. And kudos to the kids who were willing to walk into an event totally unprepared just to scope it out and provide intel for next year.”

Cottonwood won first place medals in Anatomy and Physiology, Crimebusters, Food Science, Heredity, Machines, Mission Possible, Mousetrap Vehicle, Ping Pong Parachute, Road Scholar, and Write It Do It.

Cottonwood took second place in Density Lab, Disease Detectives, Dynamic Planet, Game On, Ornithology, and Reach For the Stars.

  • Perrin Aguilar - Game On, Ping Pong Parachute
  • Sadzi Arendt - Food Science
  • Madeline Bennett – Anatomy and Physiology, Density Lab, Dynamic Planet
  • Daniel Bowles - Ping Pong Parachute
  • Addison Fassett - Road Scholar, Write it Do it
  • Johanna Hansen – Density Lab
  • Cole Johnston – Machines, Mousetrap Vehicle, Ping Pong Parachute
  • Haylie Jojola- Food Science
  • Claire Koning – Disease Detectives, Road Scholar
  • David Kracke - Mousetrap Vehicle
  • Ashley Navrotsky – Crime Busters, Mission Possible
  • Nate Phillips - Ping Pong Parachute
  • Lynn Planck – Heredity, Reach for the Stars
  • Addison Spitz – Anatomy and Physiology, Disease Detectives, Mission Possible, Ornithology, Write it, Do it
  • Anastasia Zagrai – Crime Busters, Game On, Ornithology
  • Abigail Watkins - Dynamic Planet, Machines

Sarracino Middle School’s Science Olympiad team placed second out of the 13 teams in the regional at Western New Mexico University.

“We placed first in Circuit lab, Elastic Launch Glider, Experimental Design, and Ornithology,” the team’s coach, Theresa Apodaca, said. “Second place events were Machines, Mousetrap Vehicle and third place events were Food Science, Fossils, Meteorology, and Mission Possible.”

With only a dozen on the Sarracino team, each student took on two or more events.

  • Lorena Flores – Circuit Lab, Elastic Launch Glider, Fossils, Heredity, Machines, Reach for the Stars
  • Tessa Flores – Crimebusters, Density Lab, Game On
  • Elijah Hernandez – Disease Detectives, Dynamic Planet, Mousetrap, Water Quality
  • Angelica Jacquez – Boomilever, Disease Detectives, Experimental Design, Fossils, Meteorology, Write it, Do it
  • Andrew Moellenbrock – Boomilever, Dunamic Planet, Ornithology
  • Braden Mounyo - Food Science, Mousetrap, Water Quality
  • Jeanette Otero – Circuit Lab, Crimebusters, Density Lab, Mission Possible, Reach for the Stars
  • Miriam Pias – Anatomy and Physiology, Experimental Design, Game On, Write it, Do it
  • Sky Sessions – Elastic Launch Glider, Heredity, Machines, Mission Possible
  • Reyna Tenorio – Anatomy and Physiology, Food Science, Meteorology, Ornithology, Road Scholar

There are 30 teams in the state finals this year.

Eight high schools from the Southwestern Regional are going to state along with seven middle schools. Besides Socorro, the other high schools going are Centennial High School, Las Cruces High School, Silver High School, Oñate High School, Hot Springs High School, Lordsburg High School and Hatch Valley High School.

Besides Cottonwood Valley Charter School and Sarracino Middle School, other middle schools from the Regional going to state are, Sierra Middle School from Las Cruces, Red Mountain Middle School from Deming, Picacho Middle School from Las Cruces, Hatch Valley Middle School and Truth or Consequences Middle School.

Approximately 700 student “intelletes” will tax their scientific knowledge - as well as their motor skills - in 32 spirited academic contests at locations across the New Mexico Tech campus. These Science Olympians bring their dreams of winning gold, silver and bronze as they fly model planes, build bridges and robots, examine fossils and decipher DNA in a quest for Olympic-style medals.

Science Olympiad is a nationwide program that uses tournament competition as a means to challenge and motivate science students in their academic pursuits. The competition requires teamwork, cooperation, planning and months of practice, providing students with a working knowledge of facts, concepts and processes, as well as helping them develop thinking skills through practical applications of science and engineering.

The New Mexico Science Olympiad began in 1986 and has been hosted each year since then by New Mexico Tech. This academic interscholastic competition consists of individual and team events for which students prepare during the school year.

The annual New Mexico Science Olympiad is much more than an academic team competition. The team event also serves as a productive recruiting tool for New Mexico Tech. Science Olympiad gave many of today’s Techies their first exposure to the academic and research advantages that Tech offers. Dozens of current students first considered Tech after taking part in Science Olympiad. Even for students who do not enroll at Tech, many of them decided to pursue an education in science or engineering because of Science Olympiad.