By Angela Dong and Isabelle Zhou

The noise level escalated as hordes of excited students filed into the already-crowded MPR at University High School, already busy greeting friends, sharpening pencils, and doing some last-minute studying. It was June 14th, the day of Orange County Science Circle’s Inaugural Science Tournament for 6th-8th graders, and so far it was a roaring success. The volunteers at the registration table worked busily to check-in and hand out programs to 120 students coming from 23 different elementary and middle schools. It was going to be a busy day.

The schedule included an opening ceremony, two rounds of individual testing, a fun team activity, a science bowl for top scorers, and an awards ceremony. For the opening ceremony, founder Isabelle Zhou gave a short welcome speech, explaining the schedule for the day and answering questions. Afterwards, students sat down at tables to take two 50-question multiple choice tests that tested a broad range of science topics, from life science to physical science to health. During breaks between each round of testing, students could purchase boba and baked goods.

For the team activity, students were challenged to build the highest free standing structure possible out of nothing but toothpicks and marshmallows. It was extremely exciting, as some of the teams came up with truly ingenious ideas.

Finally, students were ushered into the adjoining room for the science bowl and awards ceremony. The top 16 students based on the results of the individual testing were invited to compete in an elimination-style, high-intensity science bowl competition as the other students, parents, and spectators watched.
The awards ceremony featured a video demonstration by University High School’s Science for the Next Generation club in addition to a special appearance by Mrs. Nancy Driscoll, a science teacher at Rancho San Joaquin Middle School. Customized medals and certificates were awarded to the top six scorers in each grade, as well as the top two teams and the top two competitors in the science bowl.

Orange County Science Circle’s team has been diligently working since January to prepare for this event, from fundraising to writing tests to nonstop marketing via social media and community talks. A shoutout to the miniature army of 42 volunteers showed up to help and to see their efforts pay off!