Invitational innovation


Alan Wright (12) takes the temperature of a bowl of hot water. He ran the thermodynamics event.

Mia Brann, Author

On Jan. 20, the first ever Science Olympiad Invitational was held at Lake Central. With a full day of hands-on events and concentrated testing, the school was filled with competitive students.

This event was organized by Science Olympiad veteran George Gundelach (12).

“I started planning this two years ago towards the end of my sophomore year. It was kind of a crazy idea to start, and we weren’t sure we were going to go through with it, but once things started moving we [realized we] can’t really go back on it now. We worked on advertising and it was just one step after another. I ordered the medals and trophies, and I met up with with the athletic secretary and the administrators to solidify everything. Then the day was here and it was crazy all day long, but it was really fun. The idea wasn’t mine. It was an alumni a couple years ago who was a senior my freshman year, and he really wanted to try to have one here, but the building was still under construction so they kind of quashed it for a while. They did say that once the building was done, they would be more willing to try it out, so I just kind of carried what he had started and figured it out on my own,” Gundelach said.

Because the competition was held the same day as Winter Formal, the majority of the LC team did not compete, but some team members volunteered to run events and write tests.

“In third place was one of the Whiting High School teams, second place was Bloomington North High School and first place was of course Munster. They have a very infamously good team. We have some people taking the tests today or tomorrow night just so they can compare to the other schools and explore the difficulty of the tests we made up,” Gundelach said.

With a season spanning from October to March, the Science Olympiad team spends a large chunk of the school year working to better their events.

“We spend a lot of November getting ready for competitions and we spend most of December and January competing at Invitationals. It helps to boost morale when we do well. It also helps the seniors see where everybody is at intellectually and make the best team possible down the line. In February, there’s Regional competitions where teams compete to make it to the State competition. State is held later on in March and that’s at Indiana University Bloomington. That’s  the biggest thing we go to. It’s a lot of fun, it’s an overnight trip. It’s super intense and everybody’s on edge. Theoretically if we got any further than that we would go to Nationals, which I think this year it’s in Colorado. We’ve painstakingly climbed the mountain, but they only take one or two teams from Indiana every year and Munster’s almost always at the top,” Gundelach said.

Holding an Invitational was a big step for not only Gundelach, but the entire team. Science Olympiad is made up of students interested in applying their knowledge of science in new and innovative ways.

“In full and complete honesty, Science Olympiad is the cream of the crop intellectually. Almost everybody is taking at least one AP class, they have Grade Point Averages that soar above people and it’s also not a club for everyone. The learning curve is very high. Besides memorizing and understanding concepts, there’s also a lot of common sense and reasoning and physical, 3-D thought that has to go into a lot of the building events. For some people, that’s really overwhelming,” Gundelach said.