Miami, FL – Training for any Olympic tournament requires nothing less than serious dedication, ambition, and commitment, all qualities that Miami’s own Archimedean Upper Conservatory students have come to embody through years of competing in various competitions from the athletic to the academic, including Science Olympiad, one of the most respected science-based competitions for middle and high school students in the nation.Returning home just three and a half weeks ago from the prestigious 2017 M.I.T. Science Olympiad Invitational in Boston that resulted in 14 top-twenty finishes, including two event medals, the nationally-competing Archimedean Upper Conservatory students look to repeat past successes yet again this Saturday at the South Florida Regional Competition at Florida Atlantic University.
As the old adage states, “practice makes perfect.” Indeed, preparations start well ahead of competition day, these focused and goal-oriented students, determined to master knowledge in the fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), spending months, even years, studying theory at well beyond the high school level and honing their technical and creative prototype designing and building skills in preparation for competition day when they are asked to prove their mastery and talents in 23 distinct events covering a range of topics in physics, biology, mathematics, research methods, engineering design, robotics, and more. Competition is fierce, even at the local and state levels, invitational tournaments offering a welcomed and exciting chance to put the students’ amassed skills and knowledge to the test, participants being able to compete against some of the nation’s finest teams, without affecting official rankings, in order to get a feel for the difficulty of theory and lab events while testing the readiness and performance of contraptions ahead of the real high-stakes competition later in the school year.
For the third year in a row, therefore, Archimedean Upper Conservatory set aside several thousand to help send its top two teams, a total of 29 students alongside coaches and chaperones, to one of the premier homes of technology, research, innovation, and education, the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, MA, better known around the world as M.I.T., to compete in their annual Science Olympiad Invitational tournament, an event that this past January brought together 75 of arguably some of the best and most talented Science Olympiad high school teams from around the United States. As the only team from Miami, Archimedean’s aim was to represent their home with honor, the students also of course enjoying every moment of the weekend’s competitive jitters and memorable moments, the last minute design tweaks, late night review sessions, and moments of intense concentration amidst competitive pressure being mixed with little sleep, lots of laughter, a campus tour by several Archimedean Alumni currently attending M.I.T., amusing attempts at learning to ice skate, and a serious dose of inspiration, many of these high school students themselves dreaming of pursuing careers one day in areas of STEM and studying at a world-renown institution with the caliber and influence like that of M.I.T..
Focus and diligence resulted in success for siblings Riya and Neel Gandhi, who together brought home the 4th-place medal in Optics as well as Neel Gandhi and Dmitri Morales for their 2nd-place medal in Robot Arm. Other impressive achievements go to Riya Gandhi and Daniel Torrejon for their 8th place in Astronomy, Joseph Luis and Georgia DeLoza for their 9th place in Forensics, Anthony Mansur and Sanjana Surana for their 12th place in Robot Arm, Riya Gandhi and Julio Trujillo for their 13th place in We’ve Got Your Number, Arian Mansur and Angela Diaz for their 14th place in Picture This, Daniel Torrejon and Andrea Hands for their 15th place in Quantum Quandaries, Sergio Diaz and Anvith Krishnan for their 16th place in Anatomy and Physiology, Anvith Krishnan and Sergio Diaz for their 17th place in Write It Do It, Neel Gandhi and Dmitri Morales for their 17th and 18th places in Wind Power and Game On, Shria Bucha and Georgia DeLoza for their 19th place in Anatomy and Physiology, and, last but not least, Kleis Val and Daniel Torrejon for their 20th place in Dynamic Planet.
Now, the final touches are underway again as three Archimedean Upper Conservatory teams ready for this Saturday’s South Florida Regional Science Olympiad in Boca Raton, Archimedean once again looking to bring home medals and honorable mentions as they have every year for the past eight years. Using the experience gained last month as a warm up and dry run ahead of this weekend’s official championship that will welcome 45 local area teams, Archimedean Upper Conservatory hopes its three teams will be among the top eight to twelve who will qualify to move on the Florida state-level competition in March where students will attempt to qualify to compete in the National Science Olympiad, Archimedean’s Team Alpha consistently now for the past six years oscillating between being Florida’s silver- and bronze-medal state winners, having competed at the Nationals four times so far. This week though, all the students at Archimedean can do is feel confident that, in the end, hard work always has a way of paying off. In the words of Dr. Kalaiselvi Panneerselvam, A.U.C.’s Science Olympiad Head Coach, “no matter what happens, the students grow tremendously from the preparations and every competitive experience, and this alone already makes them winners!”