By Maleeya Mickelson and Milan Riley
Science Academy is the proud home to a world-renowned Robotics Club! Our teams have received many awards over the years and have brought back multiple wins, not only from local VEX Robotics Competitions (VRC), but from State and even World competitions. This year has continued to showcase the many talents of our students with an especially successful season.
The 2022-2023 Robotics Teams consisted of between two to five members, who worked together on their planning and execution by meeting at least twice a week to get ready for competitions throughout the season. As part of their dedication to the Robotics Program and in preparation for their competitions, teams often met in Science Academy’s on-campus Robotics Lab after school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. During that same time, advanced robotics mentors provided assistance to students as well.
Example of 2023 VEX VRC robot
Each team strived to build a robot that could compete in all aspects of the game. Every year the game changes, meaning the teams have to create new robots. This year’s game, called “Spin Up”, challenged two alliances, Red and Blue, each made up of two teams. The game started off with a 15-second autonomous period — a period when the two teams used code already pre-made to score as many points as possible. The alliance who scored the most points during this time received a 10-point bonus. The game then moved onto a 1-minute and 45-second long driver control period, where alliances once again had to score as many points as possible. Different ways to score points included shooting discs into the high goal (5 points), getting discs into the low goal (1 point), or spinning the rollers on the field (10 points). During the last 10-seconds of the match, teams could release their robot’s expansions (often made out of string) in order to score even more points by covering the tiles on the field. Every tile the team covered at the end of the game scored them another 3 points.
The 2023 challenge arena
Teams competed in many competitions this season. An overall win at one of the local competitions, as well as winning certain awards that vary from competition to competition could qualify them for the States competitions. At competitions, teams went through multiple rounds with randomly picked alliances in order to determine seeding for the elimination round. After a certain number of rounds, teams then chose their own alliances for playoffs and eliminations. Teams higher on the seeding chart received the chance to pick an alliance sooner. The 16 alliances created, consisting of a total of 32 teams, then went on to compete for the championship.
Teams also could have qualified for State competitions via another aspect of VEX Robotics Competitions known as Skills. At each competition, teams received six tries to score as many points as possible either autonomously or by driver control. They were allowed three tries for each method. Autonomous and driver control during Skills were very similar to during matches because the teams used the same methods to score points; however, teams did not have to deal with defense from their opponent or defending themselves because they were the only ones on the field.
Middle School Champions during the competition
Another large component of the competition focused on the creation and organization of the team’s engineering notebook. Throughout the season, teams recorded their progress and all the work they’ve done on their robots, from their first prototype to their final design after many adjustments and long hours of trial and error. The purpose of the notebook is to show the judges the team’s thinking, processes and their progress. Without a good engineering notebook, teams cannot win many of the awards.
This year, VEX held two State competitions, split into middle school and high school, for our region, one in San Diego and another in Los Angeles. Teams from the Science Academy won both competitions (3324U & 3324B), qualifying them for Worlds. Other teams also qualified for Worlds either by having a high score in Skills or by the following awards: Excellence Award, Design Award, Robot Skills Champions, Innovate Award, Amaze Award, Think Award, or Build Award.
Team 3324B at a state competition
The VEX Robotics World Championship was held in Dallas, Texas at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas from April 25 to May 5. The event was split into competitions for middle school and high school. Two of our high school teams competed from April 25 to April 27 and of our eight middle school teams participated from April 27 to April 29. Due to the large number of teams present at the World’s competition, VEX split the teams into different divisions. Within each division, each team participated in a mini competition, where the winners from each division advanced to the final elimination rounds in the so-called “Dome.” These rounds took place with thousands of people watching.
2023 Vex Robotics Competition
After a fierce competition between Science Academy’s Team 3324U (aka Supernova Team Hydra) and their alliance Shanghai’s Team 9123X against West Vancouver’s Team 10012W and their alliance Shanghai’s Team 9123C, Supernova Team Hydra and their alliance emerged triumphantly as the VEX VRC Middle School World Champions 2023! Despite being a first-year team, two eighth graders, Nicholas Mandreyka and Eero Wolfe, successfully created a robot worthy of a world championship. Congratulations to them!
The following Science Academy teams also won awards in their divisions as listed:
3324U Nicholas Mandreyka and Eero Wolfe Think Award
3324B Shivaan Nigam, Liam Cahill and Lily Kelsay Amaze Award
3324Y Aidan Limketkai, Gabe Cooper and Aaron Park Build Award
During the World’s competition, VEX also revealed the challenge for the 2023-24 season: Over Under. The goal of Over Under is to score as many points as possible by performing actions such as placing the game element (tri-balls) under goals or elevating the robot on a post at the end of the game.
Congratulations to all teams that participated in the 2022-23 VEX robotics season! Each and every team did a great job and has made the Science Academy very proud. A special congratulations to the members of 3324U, 3324B, and 3324Y for their accomplishments at the World Championship. Good luck to all teams competing in the 2023-24 season!
After the excitement of the World Championship, teammates Eero Wolfe and Nicholas Mandryka, the middle school winners of the 2023 VEX Robotics Competition, sat down with Milan Riley for an interview looking back over this momentous competition season:
1. What were your goals for this competition?
“Our goal for this competition was to win our division [500 teams are split into 6 divisions].”
2. What have you learned from past competitions and how are you putting that info to use now?
“What we have learned from past competitions was that ranking high before eliminations and alliance selection is important, as well as warming up before each match.”
3. What specific skills have you and your team been working on to prepare?
“Specific skills that our team has worked on to prepare was my driving because at high levels, robots are equally matched as they can score points at almost 100% efficiency and it comes down to the driving to determine who wins.”
4. What modifications have you had to make to your robot(s)?
“Some modifications that we have made to our robot was to have it shoot very fast so that when being defended, we can shoot all of our disks before being blocked. We also made sure that our expansion – we try to cover as many tiles as possible using string that is launched from the robot – does not fire out of the field so that we are not disqualified from the tournament.”
5. What were some highlights from the competition?
“Some highlights for the competition were of course winning it, but also after and during the competition when all of the teams were together having fun and supporting each other.”
6. Why do you think you guys did so well this year?
“Some reasons that we did so well this season was that we had great mentors and sister teams that helped us so much and motivated us to try so hard.”
7. What are you looking forward to working on in the future?
“We are looking forward next year to competing in high school with new members on the team and being able to help the new teams that were once us.”
8. What capabilities are you looking forward to the robotics world developing in the future in the competition world? What about in terms of real-world applications?
“As new technology like more efficient electronics become accessible, teams will be able to do even more and create amazing robots that can compete at levels unimaginable right now. VEX robotics takes a lot of real world robotics concepts and incorporates them into the competition, meaning that as technology becomes better, so will the robotics in the real world.”
by Ryan Park
For Science Academy’s 2022-2023 Science Fair, I interviewed two 8th graders to learn more about their projects: Dani Tsao, 1st place winner, and Aspen Chung, 2nd place winner.
* Dani Tsao’s Science Fair project built on her experiment from last year in creating a new type of solar panel.
What inspired you to choose your Science Fair topic?
My experiment this year is a continuation of last year’s project. I first thought of my idea when I was driving around my neighborhood and realized that there are mainly two types of solar panels: a) those that create electricity, and b) those that heat up water. When I saw this, I thought “Why can’t there be a solar panel to do both?”
What experiment did you do? What were your hypothesis and results?
With the above question in mind, I combined an electricity-generating and a water-heating solar system. Although the solar panel efficiency increased, I have thought of another idea for further improvement.
This year, I decided to make a control system that rotates the solar panel so that it always faces the sun. My results showed that this new solar panel design, combined with improved thermal insulation, increased the electricity-generating efficiency as well as heated up the water more. Compared to the original solar panel idea, this new design increased the energy capture efficiency by 25 – 30%.
Is there anything you’d like to say about receiving 1st place in your grade level?
I am very appreciative of this project because it allowed me to use the information I learned in Mr. Bradfield’s class about Arduinos and soldering. The award gives me a lot of satisfaction, but I think there are still more problems to be solved.
Dani at the L.A. County Science Fair
* Aspen Chung’s Science Fair project was about the growing danger of climate change and her method of using cleaner alternatives to carbon fossil fuels.
What inspired you to choose your Science Fair topic?
Our world is powered by fuel, ranging from transportation to heating to factories that produce many of the goods used in our daily lives. However, many of the non-green fuels that are commonly used contribute to climate change through carbon dioxide emissions, a greenhouse gas that is damaging our ozone layer. And in a world that is aiming to become greener, I believe it’s important to explore cleaner alternatives for fuel, such as hydrogen gas, which only emits water vapor as a byproduct.
What experiment did you do? What were your hypothesis and results?
My project focuses on finding the most effective way to produce hydrogen gas, which acts as a clean fuel source, through electrolysis. I varied the amounts of magnesium sulfate between 20 grams, 45 grams, and 75 grams to test how it affected the rate of electrolysis and the change in pH. I hypothesized that if the water has more magnesium sulfate, then the rate of electrolysis will be faster and the pH will change quickly. My hypothesis was proven correct through my experiment, where 75 grams of magnesium sulfate produced the fastest-changing pH, demonstrating a more efficient rate of electrolysis.
Aspen’s Science Fair BoardRead More
by Liz Zarikyan
This year’s Science Fair, which took place February 6-8th, was a showcase of projects from 7th and 8th grade students that uncovered mysteries, revealed solutions to some of our world problems, and even provided resources to use in case of emergency. I interviewed some of the 7th grade winners to find out more about their projects.
Jordan R. – Honorable Mention – 7th grade
What was the title of your project?
The Effects of Proteinase K on the Biodegradation of Plastic
Why did you choose to do this project?
I was interested in finding a way to safely degrade plastic because I’ve seen plastic pollution and have wondered how that problem could be solved. Only around 9 percent of plastic is recycled so I started my research to see if there was any way to eliminate it. I thought this method was a good option for dealing with the problem, and Proteinase K got my attention due to its ability to degrade the polymers in plastic. The surrounding soil is used through the existing microbes that consume the lactic acids which are created when the polymer is broken down by the enzyme.
Did you have any complications when working on your project?
It was hard to find proteinase K, which is an enzyme used in molecular biology. It was hard to find because it’s not an item that’s bought on a day-to-day basis, making it less available. I didn’t consider purchasing other enzymes because I researched other “digestive” enzymes such as lipase and I found that they would not be effective on plastic. I originally tried to obtain the enzyme from BLIRT, which is the primary European manufacturer of recombinant enzymes, but after applying for an offer and not getting a response, I searched for other suppliers and was then able to purchase it on eBay.
What was your process?
I tested the effects of the enzyme on the plastic by embedding the different amounts (0 mg, 10 mg, 40 mg) into 50 g of soil and then using that to cover plastic disks that came from disposable food containers. After 2 weeks of putting these out in the sun, I used Image J, which is a Java-based image processing program that provides the function of calculating the surface area within an image.
What were your results?
Proteinase K helps biodegrade plastic by a decent amount. 40 mg of Proteinase K was able to lower the surface area of plastic by over 8% in just 2 weeks.
If you could do this experiment again, what would you change?
I would run more trials because I want to test out increasing the amount of enzyme and/or composting time period.
What was the best part of your experiment?
The best part of the experiment was seeing how the plastic had degraded. I was interested to see how the experiment would turn out and was happy that it worked.
Paria V. & Kayla A. – tied for 1st place – 7th grade
What was the title of your project?
“Water on the Go: Creating an Emergency Water Filter”
Why did you choose to do this project?
We set out to create a water filter that could be used while hiking with available water, so we wanted to find out how much cleaner you can make dirty water through a mechanical process. Also, there is a shortage of clean water around the world due to natural disasters and human-orientated events, and this process could possibly allow for places around the world to have drinkable water.
What were your results?
We measured our results using a TDS meter. The TDS meter measures parts per million (PPM) of dissolved sediments in a substance. In our first trial, we had a starting PPM of 311 and a resulting PPM of 273. In our second trial, the starting PPM was 357, and it resulted as a PPM of 303. In our third trial, we started with a very high PPM of 493, which is close to the highest contaminant level and highly dangerous to consume. The resulting PPM was 343, which was a very significant change. It brought water with an almost max contaminant level down to the same PPM as tap water.
What was the best part of your experiment?
The best part was testing each layer before putting it in the filter to see how it would filter dirty water on its own. The layers we used were two pieces of foam on each end, then a starting layer of charcoal, then sand, then small rocks, and lastly, a final layer of charcoal. These layers were separated by a small layer of straining fabric so they wouldn’t mix. We decided to add another layer of charcoal, because we found that it was the best filtering factor. Something interesting we found was that when you pour water onto activated charcoal, at first it will sizzle and bubble. Afterwards, the water started to run clear, showing that the charcoal did a lot of the work. The activated charcoal strips out the toxins and odors in the water. The sand and rocks removed the larger sediments before reaching the last layer of charcoal.
What was the process after you figured out your layers?
We drilled a hole into the cap of a bottle and cut the bottom off. We then sealed a coupling into the drilled hole with waterproof silicon to ensure it wouldn’t leak. Next, we attached tubing from the coupling to the main filter and in the middle placed a valve. The valve starts and stops the water flow. This part of the mechanism does not affect the results of the filter, but it does make the filter easier to use.
Did you have any complications when working on your project?
It was hard to drill a hole in the bottle cap, and it was hard to get the cloth pieces in the tube. We also had an unexpected trial when testing our filter when the PPM actually increased, meaning the water got dirtier. This was a result of us not compressing the layer enough, so the sediments got stuck in between the layers.
If you could do this experiment again, what would you change?
To improve our project we could add either a solar panel pump or a hand pump. This is because our filter was a bit slow because of the many thick layers. This would pump in the water, making it faster and more convenient. A hand pump would be added in case a large amount of clean water is needed in a short amount of time. We could also add a stand because it took two hands to hold the filter. If a stand is added, then the filter would be completely automatic and convenient. These add-ons are not necessary for the filter to work in case of an emergency, but they would be very helpful.
Final filtration process
by Tarisha Hasan
What is the Science Olympiad?
Science Olympiad is the premier team STEM competition in the nation, providing standards-based challenges to 6,000 teams at 425 tournaments in all 50 states. Science Olympiad competitions are like academic track meets, consisting of a series of 23 team events in each division (Division B is middle school; Division C is high school). Each year, a portion of the events are rotated to focus on genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechanical engineering and technology. By combining events from all disciplines, Science Olympiad encourages a wide cross-section of students to get involved.
The competition is divided into several events, which vary every year. It is designed to test science knowledge in various ways, including (but not limited to) scientific design, tests, and build events. Certain events are more time-consuming and intensive than others: for example, Rollercoaster, where you build a stylized ramp for a ball to roll down for a target time, and Flight, in which teams build a rubber-band powered airplane vs. an event like Fast Facts, which is more a test-based “core knowledge” event. The more events your team participates in and the more events you finish in the top three places, the higher your team’s ranking.
Regional competitions typically involve schools from a specific region, usually within the same state. Our State competition takes students from schools all over California, and Nationals will likely involve teams from every single state in the United States. The experience is highly rewarding, and it can be a valuable addition on applications one may have for colleges, internships, and future jobs. With that in mind, I want to provide a thorough review of this year’s competition so that students can get a better idea of what the competition entails. Before we get started, I would like to thank and congratulate all participants in this year’s Science Olympiad competition from both Division B (middle school) and Division C (high school).
What happened on this year’s trip?
The competition this year took place at Antelope Valley College, which is about an hour northeast from the Science Academy/EVHS campus. Both Divisions B and C camped outside of Yoshida Hall to gather, prep, and give each other support. Most events (except for Green Generation B/C, Dynamic Planet B/C, Roller Coaster B, It’s About Time C, Flight B/C, Storm the Castle B, Trajectory C, Wifi Lab C, and Sounds of Music B) took place in either Uhazy Hall (UH) or Sage Hall (SH). It was quite a large campus, so all participants were provided with maps in order to navigate the competition properly. Very few events this year seemed to be available to both the middle and high school divisions, with most events being exclusive to one division or another.
Although Antelope Valley College might not be that well known to students, it was nevertheless a huge campus, making it very easy to get lost, so we found that it’s always important to leave yourself plenty of time to get to your events. The college buildings contained many fascinating things, such as an anthropology exhibit, professional lecture halls, and well-equipped chemistry labs, so between events, we definitely did some sightseeing.
Image #1: Map of the Antelope Valley Campus
Because of the events I selected, my first event wasn’t until the afternoon at 1:20 pm. Luckily, the vending machines worked fine, and the snacks that we brought on the trip were also decent, which gave me an excuse to try matcha-flavored Choco Pies for the first time.
One of my first events was the Write It, Do It event, which is both fun and a bit nerve-wracking. Teammates are placed in separate rooms; one teammate writes down instructions for building an unnamed and unpictured item, and the other has to correctly build it. Although I will admit I’m not the best architect in the world, I still think I did a pretty decent job building the compound object from my teammate’s instructions. The materials were pretty fun to fidget with and link together, and the wooden blocks made almost perfect Jenga pieces. Even then, when the time came to build the actual object, it reminded me of trying to follow a recipe shoved into Google Translate multiple times before being translated back into English.
Fast Facts, a core knowledge test event, which was overall a pretty successful event for us, had some name categories that were challenging, including parts of the brain and anatomy. Unfortunately, I completely bombed the Biotechnology category, so those are areas I’ll want to study more in the future.
Image #2: Sage Hall, where I did the Write It, Do It event.
Why should you participate in Science Olympiad?
Despite the rigor that the competition has, it is well worth the effort. Not only is it fun, but participation in the event, even if you don’t place at the top or even the top three, will look excellent on a college application. These days, colleges look for students who are well rounded and capable of a high level of endurance in times of difficulty. Participants in the competition have the potential to win huge prizes: not just trophies, medals and plaques, but also scholarships, which can make going to college a lot more economically feasible. This, in turn, can allow you to pursue the career you want, especially if it’s a STEM career. If you’re interested, you should talk to Mr. Nuno and join his Per. 7 Science Olympiad elective next year.
Image #3: Yoshida Hall. Most of us camped out near the entrance of this place, more precisely, near the tree shown at the left of the hall
Science Olympiad Trivia
- The first recorded Science Olympiad competition was held on Saturday, November 23, 1974 in Laurinburg, North Carolina at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College.
- The list of events changes every year, but the core categories remain the same: Core Knowledge, Build, and Hands-On. Hybrid events can be a combination of any of these categories.
- And finally, a word of advice:
- If this is your first Science Olympiad competition, I would highly recommend selecting an event that is Core Knowledge only; these events only require research in order to completely understand the requirements.
- If you are good at building, you may want to take on Build events. They are rewarding to design and often come in the form of models of practical everyday objects. However, these events can be time-consuming, so take them as early as possible.
by Elodia Honigstein
The homecoming game is a chance for a school to unify, rally, and boost school spirit while rooting for a common goal in a fun game. Before East Valley and Science Academy’s homecoming game on September 23rd against Esteban Torres High School, many preparations were made to make this game an event to remember. Cars were decorated and cheers were practiced to ensure that the energy was heightened for the game.
During an interview with the cheerleading coach, Jennifer Secaida, she relayed that the cheerleaders had been nervous in the time before the game; however, they were plenty excited by starting time. They had extra practices due to many of the previous girls graduating last year, so that they would be well prepared for exhibiting maximum school spirit. The cheerleaders were a constant boost of Falcon spirit, shouting and interacting with the audience throughout the game and encouraging all to let loose and enjoy themselves.
The East Valley football coach, Luis Zuniga, reported before the game that two of the team’s best players had been injured, requiring many adjustments to be made to their starting line-up. Players were put in unfamiliar positions, and so it was a time of experimentation. He said that the team was very excited about the game and were hopeful of a win.
During the Game
East Valley kicked off to start the game, giving it to Torres for the first snap. Within two minutes, the Torres managed to get a touchdown, gaining 8 points for their team. A couple of plays later, East Valley player #22 was injured and had to be taken out of the game via a wheelchair. The Falcons proceeded to advance quickly and efficiently, winning a touchdown of 6 points; however, soon another player #11 got injured.
After another touchdown by Torres in the second quarter for 6 points, the Falcons manage to rebound with a score of their own, bringing the score to 14-20, with the Torres ahead at the half.
During the halftime parade, various cars drove around the field filled with students who were all inspired by their school and the associated sports. One car was dedicated to the East Valley homecoming candidates, while another featured the Science Academy candidates. There was a car dedicated to the women’s soccer team, along with other clubs and teams here at our school.
In the third quarter, the Torres scored a touchdown, bringing the score to 14-28, with the Falcons losing yet another player, #15. The air was thick with hope and anticipation, and everyone was waiting to see if the Falcons could come back from this deficit. The Torres get another touchdown, but the Falcons turned right around and scored one of their own, making the score 20-34, Torres.
Finally, in the 4th quarter, there was one more injury, to player #1. The game came to an end with a pivotal fumble made by the Falcons, leading to the Torres picking it up and running off with it, gaining another touchdown for the scoreboard. The final score ended up being 20-42, with Torres winning. If the Falcons had not had that fatal fumble, there would have only been a touchdown between the two teams, and the Falcons would have had a chance to come back, just like they did in the first half. However, the Falcons will have other chances to beat the Torres.
During a post-game interview with the East Valley head football coach, Luis Zuniga, he stressed that the Falcons’ main concern moving forward is tackling and keeping healthy. It’s hard when guys get injured, he told his team, and they come up short, but they played with heart and that’s what matters. In the first half, the coach reports that the team felt good, as they were only a touchdown away; however, it was hard for the team when they lost their best players in the second half. He knows they will play the Torres again, and he’s confident that the Falcons will win next time.
by Daniel Svediani
This February, our very own Middle School Science Bowl Team successfully qualified for the National Science Bowl competition in Washington, D.C. by winning the Southern California regional Science Bowl competition! We are overjoyed by our students’ performance and would like to congratulate each and every team member. Our star five-person team consists of Naira Badalyan (7th grade), Saket Pamidipathri (8th grade), Ryan Lee (8th grade), Sean Yeh (8th grade), and Eric Chung (6th grade), and we would like to individually congratulate each and every one of them for their incredible performance as well as their amazing co-coaches, Ms. Musial and Jaden Penhaskashi. This has been a dream come true and the Science Bowl Club has been building up to this moment since we moved to our new North Hollywood location. In 2019, our middle school team placed in the top five; in 2020, our middle school team placed third; in 2021, our middle school team placed second; and this year we finally placed first!
So, in honor of all of our past and current Science Bowl team members, we wanted to enlighten everyone with the history of the Science Academy Science Bowl team by interviewing the team’s founder, Jaden Penhasakshi:
“In 2016, I was lucky enough to be able to create our middle school’s first Science Bowl team thanks to the help of previous coach and current Science Academy teacher, Mr. Knauss. At the time, Science Bowl was uncharted territory, but we were ready to accept any challenges in an effort to increase our knowledge and understanding of scientific studies. We formed a team of five people, four of whom attend Science Academy to this day, and we began our journey.
“We spent our first few years learning from our mistakes and gaining experience, but we only truly began to flourish during our third year of competition, where we placed second place in the Southern California regionals with the help of one of our school’s science teachers, Ms. DiMonaco. The next year we placed third and the following year, second again. It was a grueling process, but coming so close to advancing and qualifying for Nationals constantly pushed us to work harder and harder year after year.
“During the same time, our oldest middle school competitors advanced to the high school tournament, a difficult transition, because the majority of teams at the competition were composed of seniors, while our school only had freshmen. Similar to our middle school experience, we never gave up working harder and harder each year, seeing the fruits of our labor ripen as we slowly climbed in ranking.
“And that leads us to where we are today. Our current coach Ms. Musial has hosted our club for the past year and her help as well as all of our previous coaches has undoubtedly brought us the victory that we are proud to have today. We currently have four teams, two middle school teams and two high school teams, and hope they achieve similar success within the coming years. So let’s cross our fingers for all of our Science Bowl teams and wish them luck!”
Feel free to talk to Ms. Musial or any of the Science Academy Science Bowl members if you are interested in joining the team and check out our website to find out more about Science Bowl: https://stemsciencebowl.weebly.com/
Our first Science Bowl team.
Our current Science Bowl team.
From left to right: Jaden (student coach), Naira Badalyan,
Saket Pamidipathri, Ryan Lee, Sean Yeh, Eric Chung
by Sarah Lane & Scott Oberholtzer
The Science Academy High School speech and debate team has just closed out a very successful first year of competition. The team as a whole prospered in every competition, consistently placing at or near the top, with one student making it all the way to the state competition.
The team engaged in its first novice competition on Halloween, with Sarah Lane, Leila Muney, and Mary Sarukhanyan all placing within the Top 5 for Spontaneous Argumentation, as well as Gregory Kislik placing in 5th for Original Oratorical Speaking. The team was congratulated by the League President, Bobby Lebeda, for their high placements in their first competition.
The second speech competition for the year, and the first advanced speech competition for the team, came on November 19, 2020. Sarah Lane, Nicholas Carone, and Cristiana Phelan all placed within the top 10 in Spontaneous Argumentation. In addition to this, Sarah Lane also placed fourth in Impromptu Speaking.
On January 16, 2021, the team conquered its first-ever debate competition. Multiple students competed in a myriad of team and individual events. Gregory Kislik competed in the Lincoln Douglas debate and earned a superior award, while Leila Muney and Cristiana Phelan competed in the Public Forum debate, also earning a superior award. Parliamentary debate had the most entries from the team, with two teams: Rhonen Harris and Sarah Lane, as well as Nicholas Carone and Leila Muney. Both Parliamentary entries earned superior awards at the open debate competition.
In the spring open speech competition on February 20, 2021, the team had an impressive showing in the Spar and Impromptu events yet again, with Leila Muney, Rhonen Harris, and Xander Ashtrafi all placing within the top 10. Rhonen Harris also placed 6th in the impromptu speaking event at the competition.
The team then entered into the debate state qualifiers, on February 27th. At these qualifiers, Mary Sarukhanyan and Leila Muney made it all the way to the finals in Public Forum debate. The team eventually placed 7th in the event.
The next state qualifying event was for speech on March 19th, 2021. Many competitors from the team went to compete against some of the best speakers in the state, with two students from the Science Academy Team placing in finals. Michelle Dupont placed 7th, just short of qualifying for states in the program Oral Interpretation event, while Sarah Lane placed 6th and qualified for the state competition in Impromptu Speaking.
The CA state competition took place over multiple days, from April 19th to the 25th. Sarah Lane ended up competing over three separate days in Impromptu speaking, eventually making it to the semi-finals for the event. Sarah placed 13th overall out of 50+ state competitors.
Team coach Mr. Brooker, club President Mary Sarukhanyan, and the entire team are extremely proud of their stellar performance this pioneering season. With Mary stating, “I’m astonished at how far our team has come, especially since it was all done through a screen. Mr. Brooker and our team members worked really hard to get here”. Both Mr. Brooker and the team hope to return next year even more successful than the last, sending more competitors to state in both Speech and Debate events.
The team has also expressed a desire for new members, as stated by Mr. Brooker. The team is open to all high schoolers, including current 8th graders who will be starting 9th grade with the Science Academy next year. If you’re interested, please reach out to Mr. Brooker via Schoology message. Hope you will consider joining us!Read More
STEM Clubs at the Science Academy STEM Magnet
by Milan R. and Muaz R.
At Science Academy, we have a wide range of clubs, all focusing on a variety of subjects, skills, and potential occupations. In this article, we take a look at three of our STEM-focused clubs: StellarXplorers, the Applied STEAM Club, and Math Counts. Stellar Xplorers and Math Counts are sponsored by our wonderful assistant principal, Mr. Rosenthal, while the Applied STEAM Club is sponsored by Mr. Bradfield and led by fellow students Zygmunt R, Nikita A, and Oliver P. All of these clubs feature the use of many different skills in science, technology, engineering, math, and more.
Stellar Xplorers is a high school space-based competition, founded by the National Air Force Association (AFA), that encourages students to use their skills in mathematics, science, and engineering in order to solve real-life problems. Students must grapple through many different computer-generated scenarios, while keeping in mind all the variables that could affect their aircraft, such as launch speed and orbital velocity. Working and familiarizing themselves with these concepts allows pupils to gain a greater advantage when applying these skills to real-life jobs in major organizations and companies such as NASA, JPL, and SpaceX.
In order to get a more personal overview of what it’s like participating in the club, we interviewed Zachary M. (8th) on his experiences.
“I first started Stellar Xplorers in the sixth grade. It’s been a great experience so far — Stellar Xplorers has taught me about the different elements of satellite design, weighing the cost-effectiveness of different crucial satellite subsystems, the six classical orbital parameters, and evaluating the data transfer from satellites to satellites and stations, and much more. I would recommend anyone who likes space and is willing to join a team to become a Stellar Xplorer. A lot of Stellar Xplorers is not only about participating in the competitions but also having a good time with your friends. It’s one of the most fun things I’ve done this year and it always gives me something to look forward to. Also, scholarships are given to the top three teams, so that gives an incentive as well. Although you probably couldn’t use the material you learn directly after you participate in a competition when you get older, these competitions can give you some of the necessary knowledge and experience required to be able to work at companies like JPL, NASA, or SpaceX. In my opinion, there is absolutely no prior experience necessary to join this club. I came in knowing nothing about any of the topics I listed prior, but after participating in the competitions and learning about satellites and rockets through this club, I would now consider myself knowledgeable on all of them.”
StellarXplorers explores a wide variety of different topics in STEM fields and allows students to exercise skills that they can apply to real-world careers. If you would like to develop these skills for a present and future occupation, or simply have an interest in what lies beyond the great skies, consider joining Stellar Xplorers! You can do so by emailing Mr. Rosenthal about your interest in the club.
Are you deeply interesting and curious about the mysteries of mathematics and the beauty it encompasses? Or are you simply looking for a way to stretch your brain and increase your critical thinking skills? Math Counts features a solution to both of these problems! Hosted by Mr. Rosenthal, the club grants a way for students to converse and solve math problems with one another as well as increase their logical and critical thinking skills at the same time. Math Counts tackles problems in many different fields of mathematics, including algebra, geometry, probability, and statistics.
In order to get a more personal overview of what it’s truly like in the club, we interviewed two club members:
Saket P. (8th): “I first started Math Counts in 6th grade when it was a small group of 6, and we just did math problems and math competitions. We entered competitions like the AMC 8, 10, 12, the Math Olympiad, and the Math Counts and Purple Comet. I would recommend anyone who likes competitive math to come to join, or if you like fun math problems. Most of the stuff you learn can help you gain an advantage in the competition and can help us beat rival schools. I don’t believe there is a need for prior knowledge, you just need to be interested in math. But if you want a list of subjects to prepare for the competition, there are algebra, geometry, number theory, and probability. Math Counts is an amazing club for anyone interested in math. I am excited to see how this club ends up in the years to come.”
Ryan L. (7th): “I first started Math Club just when it was announced by Mr. Rosenthal. The club is a great way to practice skills that you have already learned as well as develop new ones. It’s a great opportunity to have fun with math, and I was able to incorporate the math questions I have answered there with various problems on the AMC and Math Counts. I believe that some prior knowledge is needed, at least algebra. The club is there to learn and practice math. The people who already know the math are able to practice the problems, and more importantly explain how to do the problem to the other students, allowing the other students to learn and allowing all the students to gain more experience in articulating the process and solution.”
Math Counts provides an environment for students to engage in different mathematical challenges and problems with one another in order to expand upon their logical and critical thinking skills. If these activities sound enjoyable to you, consider emailing Mr. Rosenthal about your interest in the club!
Are you interested in MakerSpace, electronics and/or engineering? If so, you should know the Applied STEAM Club has been devoted to a combination of these topics since they formed in January 2021.
The Applied STEAM Club aspires to be a “community of STEM enthusiasts to showcase cool projects and ideas.” Together, members of the club collaborate on projects and work on them to perfection. Other than collaborating, students “communicate with each other in the STEAM club whether it be through Zoom or Discord”. Their Zoom meetings are every Thursday from 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM.
One of their major goals is to “acquire more members in order to make bigger projects and have better collaborations”. The club representatives are also hopeful the club can meet in person when school returns to normal, and therefore make collaborating easier.
The Applied STEAM Club is sponsored by Mr. Bradfield with Zyg R, Oliver P, and Nikita A as their representatives. To enter the club, students can use the access code from the S.A. Student Body Outreach to join their Schoology group, and they can attend their meetings.Read More
By Emily Corona
On October 31st, seven members of the Science Academy Debate Club took on their first Tri-County Forensics League (TCFL) Novice Speech Tournament with great success. The Debate Club consists of the high school students at the Science Academy, sponsored by Mr. Brooker, who have had prior experience with debate in their English classes. Now, these students have taken the initiative, using their skills developed from intramural debate, and dove into the competitive sphere against other school teams. The students participating hailed from a myriad of schools across the district, and were assigned number scores to determine their overall placements. The tournament itself, held over Zoom, consisted of thirteen different categories, two of which the team participated in on Saturday morning.
The team did incredibly well, with three participants from the Science Academy ranking in the top five in Spontaneous Argumentation. The argumentation was impromptu, and the students had no prior knowledge of the topics given. In this form of debate, participants are given one minute to prepare after the topic is presented, and after must argue their given stance. Some of the featured topics given included TikTok and its potential threat to national security, teachers sharing political views in classrooms, and sports teams and political slogans, according to Sarah Lane. Based on their argumentation and overall performance in comparison to other students in their breakout room, participants were awarded points. Sarah, an 11th grader and Debate Club historian, proudly placed first in the Spontaneous Argumentation event, netting over 289 total points. Leila Muney, tenth grader and Debate Club vice president, placed second and earned over 282 points for her performance. Mary Sarukhanyan, a 10th grader and current president of Speech and Debate Club, placed a close fourth in the event, as well, gaining 280 points.
One of the team members also placed in the top three in the Original Oratory event. Gregory Kislik, an 11th grader, placed third for his speech about misinformation, scoring an impressive 272 points. Greg was kind enough to provide portions of his oratory, which was to be prewritten and prerecorded for judging at the tournament. Greg’s speech, “An Untrue Truth”, talks about the need to be correct and how reliable sources can be subject to bias, as well as how misinformation has even permeated the scientific community:
“Researcher bias and error is a factor which can mislead the public because of the researcher’s perceived authority over a certain subject. Errors such as publication bias, in which publishing is based on outcome, reporting bias, which is the reporting of only positive outcomes (and neglecting negative ones), as well as spin (how the data is framed) are commonplace throughout research.”
Greg’s speech is an insightful look into the realm of misinformation, and how it affects everyone down to the sources thought to be unquestionably credible. The witty humor, coupled with the informational sources, provide an interesting take on something we often pay no mind to in the scientific community. It’s easy to see why he received such a high placement.
Overall, the team performed exceptionally well for their first official Speech and Debate tournament. Taking the majority of the top five of spontaneous argumentation, and securing a spot in the top three of the original oratory, club president and representative Mary Sarukhanyan is proud of her team. Mary commented on the team’s performance and experience going into their first tournament with the TCFL, saying:
“Everyone on the team was really nervous going into it, being our first time and over Zoom too. But we made a splash with our standings and even received comments from the co-president of our circuit. The team is thrilled with what we achieved and we’re preparing to kill it at our next event.”
It’s safe to say the Science Academy community is incredibly proud of how the team did in their tournament, and excitedly awaits the next one!Read More