East Lansing High School Science Olympiad Team Headed to State Tournament

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Monday, March 25, 2019, 9:33 am
By: 
Annette Kopachik

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

On Saturday, March 16, East Lansing High School’s Science Olympiad Club defeated 14 high school teams to take first place in the Region 11 Tournament at Lansing Community College. The regional tournament victory guarantees the Trojans a berth in the state tournament, set for April 27 at Michigan State University.

Science Olympiad is composed of 23 events covering a variety of scientific fields. It is an international, nonprofit organization devoted to improving the quality of science education, increasing student interest in science, and providing recognition for outstanding achievement in science education by both students and teachers. The national organization was
co-founded by Dr. Gerald J. Putz of Michigan’s Macomb Intermediate School District in in 1982. For more information, visit www.soinc.org.

The team was founded five years ago by ELHS science teacher John Heinrich and now-head coach Will Kopachik. Initially, they were able to recruit seven members and participated only with a partial team to “try it out.” The next year, 2015-16, the team doubled to 14 members and placed fifth at the regional level. By 2016-17, the team of 22 students qualified for state, and by 2017-18, the 42-member team finished 13th out of 60 high schools at state after placing third at the regional tournament.

In addition to this year’s overall first place win for the team, ELHS students placed first in seven events including Astronomy, Designer Genes, Disease Detectives, Herpetology, Protein Modeling, Water Quality, and Write It – Do It.

The team has been financially supported by several anonymous donors, as well as a grant from AT&T through the East Lansing Education Foundation.

Coaching help has come from a number of volunteers including Ken Abrams for Boomilever, Circuit Lab and Mission Possible; Nelson Ng for Codebusters and Circuit Lab; Dave Wisner for
Anatomy/Physiology and Disease Detectives; Bob Miller for Sounds of Music and Fermi Questions; Brian Turnbull for Wright Stuff; and Doug Wiesner for Chem Lab and Protein Modeling. The team has also received help from teachers John Heinrich, John Plough and Will Paddock of the ELHS science department.

In addition to the High School team’s success, the McDonald Middle School team has also secured a place in the state tournament with a fourth-place finish in the B-team (middle school) division. That team was founded just last November.

Academic competitions like Science Olympiad depend on adult volunteer coaches. You can find out more about volunteering by contacting Coach Will Kopachik at kopachik@msu.edu.

(Disclosure: Annette Kopachik is the wife of ELHS Science Olympiad Coach Will Kopachik.)

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