There’s a new trophy standing tall on the desk in Hauser Jr./Sr. High School’s office that has nothing to do with sports. It represents the school’s second regional Science Olympiad win in the two years the team has been active.

Hauser Science Olympiad students in grades 7-9 converged on Ivy Tech Community College’s Bloomington campus Feb. 4 to put their minds to the test in hopes they might make it to the state competition — and they succeeded.

The team of 15 students competed throughout the day in various scientific fields, including life and social sciences, engineering and technology, earth and space sciences, among others. Some events are formatted like traditional tests, but others require students to build prior to the big day.

Hauser wasn’t the only area school to make it to state. Columbus North High School’s C Division team — Grades 9-12 — also competed at the regional. The team finished a close second, said Matt Parker, Science Olympiad and AP biology teacher at Columbus North.

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The teams will compete at the state competition March 18 at the Indiana University Bloomington campus.

“The competition is like a track meet for science and engineering students,” said Deborah Gaff, Hauser Science Olympiad instructor. “Students compete in three to five events. In each event there are at least two student competitors who work together.”

Hauser’s members give credit for their win to teamwork.

“We wouldn’t be at first place if it was just one team member that was carrying the entire team because we all compete together,” Elijah Heslop, a freshman, said.

This is Heslop’s second year on the team. He competed in four events at the regional — anatomy and physiology, meteorology, food science and road scholar — and earned a medal in all of them. Everyone on the team earned a medal in more than one event this year, according to Gaff.

Some students plan on pursuing careers in science fields. Chloe Kennedy, a freshman and second-year team member, originally joined the team because it had an event in meteorology — her career of choice. Maylee Barriger, an eighth-grader, plans to go into nursing and participated in the disease detective event, where students study disease, injury, health and disability with a focus on food-borne illness.

Barriger, Heslop and Kennedy encourage other students to give Science Olympiad a try, even if students don’t think they want to study science later on in life.

“Even if you don’t like science, there’s something here for you; there’s an event you will most likely have interest in and you can compete,” Kennedy said.

Heslop and Kennedy will compete in the high school division next year. They intend to recruit more high school members and create a C Division team.

North’s team will prepare for state by rebuilding, tweaking and studying. To prepare, students are practicing and studying, trying to retain as much information as possible as they will be allowed minimal notes, Parker said.

Hauser team members

Hauser Science Olympiad Team

Coach: Deborah Gaff

Students: Maylee Barriger, Lance Bruer, Brady Burton, Ashley Chambers, Thomas Essex, Kaitlyn Everroad, Jonas Fleenor, Elijah Heslop, Gabby Johns, Ben Johnson, Addison Jones, Chloe Kennedy, Graham Kennedy, Joe Newcomb and Cade Whittington.

North team members

Columbus North Science Olympiad Team

Coach: Matt Parker

Students: Reeya Cheenanda, Shreya Hurli, Ritu Gangadhara, Dee Iyer, Bushra Jameel, Zoha Jameel, Vijay Jampa, Alisha Melton, Mostafa Mohammed, Erica Song, Becca Stanton, Shweta Srinivasan, Priya Subramaniam, Vasrhita Venkatachalam and Akshat Verma.

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Kaitlyn Evener is an editorial assistant for The Republic. She can be reached at or 812-379-5633.