Students Attend National Science Olympiad Event

May 24, 2023

Fifteen St. Johnsbury Academy students attended the National Science Olympiad Tournament in Wichita, Kansas, May 19-20, 2023. The team experienced the highs and lows of demonstrating their preparation and talents at the national level, working among the leaders of the next generation of science researchers and innovators. Over 1600 high school students were invited to perform in 26 challenges, including demonstration and main competition events.


Notable accomplishments were from:
Uma Chirkova placing 25th in the WiFi event. Uma built her own WiFi transmitter/receiver and succeeded at the operational challenge/demonstration of her device, including a written theory test. Uma worked alone while the other 60 teams worked in 2-student pairs.


Maaike Dam and Uma Chirkova placed 32nd in the Remote Sensing event. Maaike and Uma worked together to show extensive knowledge about the US and international satellite systems used to measure the Earth and the climate and to create meteorological reports and predictions.


Zetong “Lydia” Wang and Dolma Sherpa placed 33rd in the Write It Do It event. Dolma had 25 minutes to write a description of an elaborate and fanciful 3-dimensional assembly of objects. Lydia then re-created the assembly, sight unseen, using only the description Dolma had prepared.


Misumi Matsudo and Dolma Sherpa, placed 38th in Chemistry Lab. The challenge was to perform several lab procedures and complete various quantitative analyses to demonstrate deep understanding of the tools and techniques used in a chemistry lab.


Yubo Zhang placed 44th in the Bridge Building event. He constructed a 14-gram bridge from balsa wood that held a 6.5 kg load.


Estelle Kokernot, Hanson Tsai, and James Wai Bong Wong combined to earn 47th place in the Code Busting competition. They were tasked with deciphering (or encoding) 18 messages of varying lengths using 18 different coding techniques.


The students prepared for many months while participating in the many and varied opportunities the Academy has to offer, including attending All-State music events, completing AP exams the previous two weeks, and preparing for school exams the week following the National Science Olympiad. After the event, the group’s advisor, Mr. Eckel said, “I am awed by the talent and dedication of our students and how they stood together with some of the top STEM students in the United States. They are a product of our community of educators and mentors.”


Mr. Eckel also offered his gratitude to Science Department Chair Elia Desjardins for her assistance on the trip. “Without Elia’s calm and uplifting spirit and readiness to step in to help with all manner of tracking and coordinating students through airports, bus transfers, an unfamiliar college campus, and hotel room checks, this trip would not have been as smooth and easy an experience for the students. My deepest gratitude and appreciation to Elia!”


Caption: Front row (l-r) Ashley Chen ’24, Ava Massoni ’24, Lily Weber’23, and Estelle Kokernot ’24. Second row: Misumi Matsudo ’23, Maaike Dam ’24, Dolma Sherpa ’24, Uma Chirkova ’24, Zetong (Lydia) Wang ’23, Yubo Zhang ’25, Hanson Tsai ’23, Ed Eckel (coach). Back row: Kanan Gasimov ’24, Muzaffar Hussein ’24, James Wai Bong Wong ’23, and Zhi Howes ’23.

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