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