After placing first at the Connecticut Science Olympiad, Wiltonian Emma Bucklan and 14 other Hopkins School students are going on to represent Connecticut at the 31st annual Science Olympiad National Tournament at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., in May.
The March 28 state competition at the University of Connecticut in Storrs involved a series of different STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) events, said Emma.
“There were teams of 15 people and two or three people worked on different events at a time. Each event was unique and involved building, taking tests or doing lab experiments,” she said.
“For example, one of the experiments I did was called ‘Scrambler’ and I had to see how close I could get an egg to a wall using a particular contraption.”
Emma said Hopkins students are given the option to sign up to participate in the Science Olympiad at the beginning of the school year, but signing up doesn’t mean a guaranteed spot.
“There were about 80 people who signed up this year and we had to go through a whole application process where we said what events we were interested in, what other clubs we’re doing and we had to solve sample problems,” said Emma.
At the end of the application process, 60 students were selected to form four teams, said Emma.
“From those applications, four different teams were formed — the lowest is like the alternate team and then you have the C team, the B team and the A team,” said Emma.
“Each team is 15 people and then the rest get cut. It’s pretty intense, but everybody is very qualified on all teams.”

Wins


While this was her first time participating in the Connecticut Science Olympiad, Emma said, it was Hopkins’ seventh first-place win.
“I went in knowing that we had a lot of past victories, but I wasn’t actually sure how well we were going to hold up,” she said.
“Earlier in the year, we had done an invitational at Yale and we only placed 10th. We got our butts kicked by New York.”
Although Hopkins “still did pretty well” and was “the best school from Connecticut” at the invitational, Emma said, “we weren’t sure if the other teams at states were going to be on the same level as those from New York, so I didn’t know what to expect.”
Despite her concerns, Hopkins’ A Team — on which Emma was one of two sophomores — placed first in the overall state competition and its B Team took home third.
In addition to each team’s overall score in the state competition, Emma said, team members received individual medals for placing in the top four in events.
Emma received a second-place individual medal in the Scrambler event and a first-place medal in an event called “Write It Do It.”
“Write It Do It is this really cool event where you work with a partner and one person has to write about a particular set of objects,” said Emma, “and then the other person has to recreate it following directions without initially seeing the original thing.”

Nationals


Before the Science Olympiad National Tournament on Saturday, May 16, students have time to brush up on anything they may need to help them win a national title, said Emma.
“If there was anything that didn’t go well at states, we’re sort of tweaking it,” she said.
“If we didn’t study for a particular thing or we need to know how to rearrange a particular contraption, we can go back and change that again before nationals.”
According to the Science Olympiad website, the national competition will bring together 120 middle school and high school teams to participate in “rigorous hands-on and lab events” — led by experts from government agencies, top universities and Science Olympiad state chapters — that cover topics in physics, epidemiology, astronomy, chemistry, meteorology, and engineering.
“Each team in the competition has placed top in their state competitions, so it’s essentially the same thing — just more people and definitely a higher caliber of students,” said Emma.
According to the Science Olympiad website, teams will be joined by “5,000 like-minded STEM enthusiasts” at the national competition, where students will be awarded scholarships, technology prizes, corporation and professional conference trips, and tuition waivers to institutions like the University of Central Florida and the George Washington University.
Up to 47 scholarships will be awarded to Science Olympiad National Tournament gold medal winners in the high school Division C, according to the Science Olympiad website, including the George Beadle Scholarship — currently valued at $13,500 a year for four years at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln — for out-of-state students.
Click here for more information on the Science Olympiad.