By Marci Narum
The Legacy High School Science Olympiad team seems to have found a certain “winning” formula. By now you have probably heard the team brought home the state championship title in April. The win was unexpected, but science teacher Mike Walz says he can see why his students won.
“I’ve coached Science Olympiad for 13 years. This year, there’s only one senior, four juniors, three freshmen, and the rest are sophomores. I’d have to check to be sure, but I think they might be the youngest team ever to win state,” Mike says.
“Along with that youth comes a lot of energy. It’s been unbelievable how excited, energetic, how committed they are, not to mention their brilliance, too.”
Mike says commitment has been a consistent quality with every Science Olympiad team he’s coached. He says this team is different, though — every member of the team has been committed.
“We start in October and before each event, we practice every day and on Saturday for three hours. A month before state we started doing two practices a day, so they are here at 6:45 in the morning and then after school until 5 or 5:30, and then Saturdays,” Mike says.
He says students have even begged him to have more practice.
“The biggest thing for me is, I feel like these kids have been on a mission, and they were cruising along and they saw me and said, ‘Come on Mr. Walz, get on board!’
It’s been a real blessing and I’ve been enjoying the ride the whole time.”
ON A MISSION
Just ask a couple of students on the team, and you’ll get an idea for the energy and excitement they have. Legacy High School sophomores Hannah Zeien and Skyler Skees couldn’t wait to tell Inspired Woman about science olympiad. This is Hannah’s first year on the team.
“I always really liked science so I thought it would be a good idea to join this year,” Hannah says.
“This is my second year,” Skyler shares. “Mr. Walz saw potential in me and a few other freshman at the time and asked us to join the science olympiad team, and since then we’ve been getting better and better.”
What’s next for them?
“Nationals!” Hannah and Skyler say with excitement. They are eager to meet other students from the 120 teams that will gather at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and the bonus — meeting Bill Nye “The Science Guy.”
Skyler and Hannah say they’ve always wanted to make sure the girls on the team are seen and heard, but add it hasn’t been a problem because half the team is girls and “We’re all very vocal and we know how to get things done.”
That includes raising money so they can make the trip to nationals. The team started a Go Fund Me campaign on April 30 with a goal of raising $20,000 to help cover their travel, food, and lodging at Cornell University. Another $2,200 in the fund and they will be set!