Freshman year can be a time of great change: a new school, a new schedule, new teachers and new friends. It can be difficult to know where to fit in or how to balance everything on your plate. But freshman Sreenidhi Palappian isn’t daunted by her changing landscape at all- she prefers to jump right into the deep end. After a mere two weeks of high school, she wants to form two new clubs.
One of the clubs Palaniappan is trying to start is called Science Olympiad, a team-based STEM club that would enter in competitions. Once started, the club would participate in the official Science Olympiad challenges, and if they advanced, they would be eligible to earn scholarships.
“In Science Olympiad, you get to work with a partner to write a test for the judges,” Palaniappan said. “It’s application based questioning, so you use your knowledge of science to create your submission. Then you get a score to see if you’re ranked high enough to advance to the next level.”
Science Olympiad is a national competition that provides challenges to nearly 8,000 teams across all 50 states. Founded in 1984, this organization hosts 450 tournaments per year on college campuses as well as many professional development workshops in the STEM field.
“When I was at [Stiles] middle school I participated in Science Olympiad, and it was for me to get exposure to all of the fields I could go in to,” Palaniappan said. “My parents would always asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and thanks to Science Olympiad I now have access to information about many careers in the STEM area.”
Palaniappan said she already has several of her friends interested in starting the club, but she wants to grow it as much as she can. She plans to host an informational meeting explaining the details to prospective members as well as putting up flyers around the school.
“I just want to extend the opportunity to any student who wishes to compete with us,” Palanippan said. “I want to build up the name of Rouse, and after a few years, hopefully take us to the national level.”
The other club Palaniappan wants to start is called Mu Alpha Theta. It’s very similar to the Science Olympiad, except contestants compete in mathematics instead of science.
“There are three levels of competition: Mu, Alpha, and Theta,” Palappian said. “Mu is the hardest with precalculus and above, the Alpha with algebra II and above, then finally Theta with algebra I, geometry, and some basic math skills from middle school.”
Students in Mu Alpha Theta would be eligible to earn scholarships depending on how far they advanced in the competition. However, the club would serve mainly to give students exposure to different areas of math rather than strictly competition, and potentially help them decide what they want to do with their life.
“It’s just about interest, learning about different areas in the math field,” Palappian said. “I want each student who joins to do what is right for them. Together, we can build an organization that we are all passionate about.”