by Rohan Sinha (’23) | February 3, 2023
On January 14, Lancer Science Olympiad competed in its first in-person tournament in almost three years at the Aggie Invitational, a tournament hosted by student organizers at UC Davis. With two teams of approximately thirty students embarking on an early morning trip to attend the competition, this event served as a rare opportunity for community-building following pandemic-related precautions that had required previous tournaments to be conducted remotely.
Team members arrived at Saint Francis early in the morning to ensure an on-time arrival at Davis. Even as the stormy weather seemed to create chaos for the team’s first in-person invitational, it also helped create a key team bonding moment—an “odd sense of unity,” board member Stuti Pandey (’23) noted.
Teams compete in Science Olympiad tournaments by dividing into various groups that specialize in events based on fields of interest. The event Codebusters, for example, caters to those interested in cryptography, while the event Forensics caters to those with a chemistry background. Organizers assess each event in fifty-minute time slots, either with a written assessment, a laboratory assignment, or a build. These tight time constraints created an eventful day, with members embarking on arduous trips across campus in stormy weather to arrive at their events on time.
Yet team members found value not only in competition, but also in the opportunity to explore a college campus. Competitor Hoshita Undella (’24) noted, “Attending Aggie in-person for the first time was a wonderful experience, especially because I was finally able to compete in a professional setting among many other teams, while exploring the Davis campus with my friends during breaks!”
On top of the excitement of competing on a college campus, it was the little moments that reminded team members of the value of in-person competition. Pandey noted that it was “riding in vans to our tournament while cramming, or debriefing with tacos in between our events” that made her experience at Aggie truly memorable.
After all members had finished competing in the afternoon, the team returned to Saint Francis—a road trip filled with team bonding and games. Although the team viewed the awards ceremony remotely, waiting for the results together served as another moment of “odd unity.”
Following pandemic restrictions that had significantly inhibited the collaboration inherent to the spirit of Science Olympiad, the Aggie Invitational was a welcome departure from isolation. As the team continues its first fully in-person competition season in three years, this experience has inspired team members to seek “odd unity,” finding solidarity and building community in eventfulness.
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