Socorro’s Sci-Oly students among top in state

The Cottonwood Valley Charter School Science Olympiad team group around their state championship trophy. The team will now compete in the national finals at Caltech in May.
Photo courtesy Tommie McSherry

The weeks and months of preparation for the New Mexico Science Olympiad state finals paid off for Socorro STEM students who made an impressive showing at the annual event at New Mexico Tech on Feb. 25-26.

While Socorro High School placed a solid third in Division C, the Cottonwood Valley Charter School team claimed the State Championship in Division B.

With a final score of 118, CVCS beat out second-place Albuquerque Academy (121) and third-place Albuquerque Area Homeschoolers (136).

Daniel Bowles and Anastasia Zagrai of CVCS work on their trebuchet before the competition.
Photo courtesy Tommie McSherry

Cottonwood Valley’s head coach, Tommie McSherry, said her team is “beyond excited” about winning the state title.

“After spending last school year largely isolated, and not participating in SciOly at all, we have really enjoyed our season this year,” McSherry said. “It’s been great to see students get together again, in person, enjoying each other’s company and sharing an enthusiasm for science and engineering.”

McSherry complimented the students for their commitment.

“The kids have put a ton of effort into preparing for competitions by studying and building,” she said. “These last several weeks we have put in four to seven hours of after-school practice time and many students are also studying from home.

“I have awesome coaching support from Greg Spitz, who supports our builders (students participating in bridge, mousetrap car, trebuchet, mission possible, and wright stuff), and Denise Gilson who helped students design, build and tune a musical instrument,” she said. “They decided to build a xylophone.”

CVCS scored highest in Crimebusters (1st-James Si and Anastasia Zagrai), Rocks and Minerals (1st-Abby Cadol and Kathleen Johnson), Crave the Wave (2nd-Niki Planck and Kailyn Woods), Food Science (2nd-Anastasia Zagrai and Daniel) Bowles), Mission Possible (2nd-Logain Aguilar and Geovanni Vazquez), Ping Pong Parachute (2nd-Timur Aitbayev and Riley Sewell).

The CVCS team scored third in BioProcess Lab, Electric Wright Stuff, Green Generation, and Ornithology.

Socorro High School’s Sky Sessions and Angelica Jacquez won second place in the bridge building event.
Photo courtesy Azza Ezat

There were 21 teams from four regions participating in the High School division and Socorro High School won third place overall with a respectable score of 114. La Cueva High School came out on top with a total score of 83, and in second place Albuquerque Academy finished with 92.

The SHS team scored highest in Anatomy and Physiology (1st-Elias Zheng and Kilee Mounyo), Astronomy (1st-Rio Sessions and Elizabeth Mollenbrock), Remote Sensing (1st-Rio Sessions and Elizabeth Planck), and Wifi Lab (1st-Elias Zheng) and Cody Johnston).

Socorro assessed second place in Bridges, Detector Building, Gravity Vehicle, and Rocks and Minerals, and claimed third in Ornithology.

Coach Azza Ezzat said the team will miss their graduating seniors Elias Zheng, Gavin Spitz, Cody Johnston, Rio Sessions, Kilee Mounyo, and Dayzie Whitehorse.

The New Mexico Science Olympiad began in 1986 and is hosted each year by New Mexico Tech. This academic interscholastic competition consists of individual and team events for which students prepare during the school year.

Each team can have up to 15 members, with two “intelletes” competing in most competitions. Both winning teams, Cottonwood Valley Charter School and La Cueva High School will represent New Mexico at the 38th Annual Science Olympiad National Tournament hosted in partnership with the California Institute of Technology from May 9 to May 14 in Pasadena, California, and in a virtual format .

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