Manistee Science Olympiad team gearing up for regional meet

MANISTEE — After a season that saw Manistee High School’s Science Olympiad team win its regional last year, the Chippewas are poised to make another run at the state tournament this season.

“We’re strong. The kids work very hard. They know what to do,” said Kevin Postma, who coaches the team with Bridget Warnke. “We’ve built enough of a program that when we have practices the kids know what to do. The older kids kind of mentor the younger kids. They don’t waste a lot of time — they get right to it.”

Science Olympiad is a team in which students compete in various competition events related to various fields of science, including earth science, biology, chemistry, physics and engineering.

Manistee most recently competed Feb. 26 in an invitational at Allendale High School. The team placed 10th against some of the top programs in Michigan.

Ceci Postma and Luke Smith had a strong showing for Manistee in the Write It, Do It event, in which one participant writes a description of an object and directions for how to build it, and the other participant attempts to construct the object from the description .

Smith and Sarah Huber demonstrated their understanding of variability of low- and mid-mass stars en route to a third-place finish in the astronomy event.

Solana Postma and Dylan Madsen took fifth in the Green Generation event, which tests students’ understanding of ecology principles, issues and solutions.

Madsen and Avery Vaas showed off their knowledge of all things feathered to take sixth in Ornithology.

Solana and Ceci Postma placed sixth in Disease Detectives, in which participants use investigative skills in the scientific study of disease, injury, health and disability in populations or groups of people.

“The results from this latest tournament were pretty solid,” Postma said. “We ended up placing 10th, but you had Grand Haven there who has won the state tournament more than half of the 40 years it’s been existence. We ended up right behind Forest Hills and right in front of Northview High School.”

Postma said the invitational serves as a good confidence booster heading into the team’s regional tournament at Mid Michigan College on March 19, as it demonstrated the Chippewas can hang with any program in the state.

“When my students go off to college or do anything in life, they have to compete against people from all over the world,” he said. “Sometimes, if Manistee High School competes against a big Class A, Grand Rapids school or something, our punch is a lot heavier than a little small northern Michigan school. I know I’m kind of bragging here, but they need to be bragged about. … They don’t see themselves as not as tough some of these other top schools, so it’s kind of cool.”

The invitational also marked Manistee’s return to in-person competition after the coronavirus pandemic canceled the 2020 state meet and led to last season being held virtually.

“We did an online one earlier this year,” Postma said. “This one was nice to go to because it was an actual live event. Competing virtually is good, but it’s always better to do a lot of these things in a person.”

Still, Postma said, some of the innovation which enabled Science Olympiad competitions to be held virtually have carried over to benefit in-person competition.

“There’s some good stuff that came out of the virtual. Science Olympiad has put together a testing platform for events, so you don’t need to build and launch something,” he said. “For example, for cell biology, you can run the test right on there and it makes it a lot easier to grade and compile results.

“It makes the award ceremonies start a lot earlier, because everyone’s not scrambling around with their paper tests and what have you.”

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