That Winning Feeling: Mentor High Students Share Their Ohio Science Olympiad Experience

The date was Saturday, April 1, 2017.

It's a day that the Mentor High School Science Olympiad program will remember for a long time, as it marks the first time it won the Ohio Science Olympiad State Tournament.

Prior to winning the state tournament this past spring, Mentor placed fourth or higher 13 times, including second-place finishes in 2007, 2009 and 2015. Additionally, the program has made four appearances at the national tournament, with its highest finish of fifth in 2007.

Student participants are the reason Science Olympiad programs like Mentor High School thrive. Check out the video and testimonials from current and past Mentor participants.


Sarah Manes | Years involved: 6

Eric Berezne | Years involved: 2

How did you first get involved with Science Olympiad?

Sarah: Science Olympiad was the first club I joined my sixth-grade year. Ever since I could talk, I was curious about the world around me, leading to an everlasting love of science that gets stronger each year. I signed up for anything with the word science in it, and here I am.

Eric: My sister got me involved and I was interested in science.

How did it feel to win the state tournament last year?

Sarah: It was amazing! As a sophomore and it being my first year on the high school team, I felt honored to be a part of that incredible team. It was a team effort, but we can’t forget the hard working teachers and parents who helped us get to where we are now.  

Eric: It felt great knowing all of the hard work from the members paid off in the end.

Describe your national tournament experience. How did you feel? What did you learn and how will those lessons help you this coming year?

Sarah: Nationals is terrifying, and people are really smart. Nationals brought everyone closer as a team, and we learned our strengths and weaknesses along the way. Nationals was a very-high pressure situation, which will help for this year WHEN we go again.

Eric: The experience was new but the atmosphere was great with all of these people from around the nation. I learned the importance of creating friendships and meeting new people--I felt like I could connect and have a great time with others from different areas of the nation.

What do you like most about participating in Science Olympiad?

Sarah: I love meeting people who have the same interests I do and finding other nerds that want to take tests on Saturdays.

Eric: My favorite part about Science Olympiad is when we go to Bob Evans as a team to celebrate placing well at invitationals.

What is your favorite event?

Sarah: Mousetrap Vehicle and Herpetology

Eric: My favorite event is Chem Lab.

What advice do you have for students who are thinking about getting involved with this program?

Sarah: If you love science, or just want to torture yourself with tests, you’ll love this program. In all honesty, Science Olympiad will help in all aspects of your upcoming years. It will teach you how to manage your time, deal with stress, and work with others in ways that no other organization would be able to do.

What do you want to be when you grow up and do you think Science Olympiad has helped you toward that goal?

Eric: I am undecided about the future, but Science Olympiad pushed me into a science related field of study for college.


Michael Chen | Years involved: 7

Kristen Buse | Years involved: 7

Josh Pugh | Years involved: 6

How did you first get involved with Science Olympiad?

Michael: As a sixth grader, I was encouraged to join by my peers who were a grade above me.

Kristen: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯Just started doing it!

Josh: I got first involved with Science Olympiad because of my friends in middle school. I did not participate in sixth grade, but my friends encouraged me to get involved with the club because they had so much fun the year before. I am grateful that my friends pushed me to get involved in this activity because I have enjoyed every moment since.

How did it feel to win the state tournament last year?

Michael: Above all else, I felt immense gratification knowing how much work our team put in leading up to the tournament.

Kristen: As an alternate, I was fully expecting to get very bitter, but I'm actually super proud of all my teammates.

Josh: When Mentor High School was called for first place at the state tournament last year, I was at a lost for words! We did not perform the greatest the whole year, so we were underdogs coming into the tournament. But we knew that we had a strong team. We came together and everyone performed to the best of their ability that day, which resulted in our first-place finish. It felt amazing that our hard work paid off, and that our championship was a total team effort because every event finished in the top eight. I was so proud of my team, and proud to be a part the Mentor Science Olympiad team.

Describe your national tournament experience. How did you feel? What did you learn and how will those lessons help you this coming year?

Michael: My most memorable moment at nationals was meeting and hanging out with a few members of the West Windsor-Plainsboro. It reminded me that Science Olympiad is just as much about camaraderie and community, as it is about preparing for events.

Kristen: Oh wow. I mean it was awesome. The parade and stuff was really cool, and then we won that trophy--it was lovely.

Josh: My national tournament experience was amazing. Meeting so many smart people from across the country was intimidating at first, but everyone was amazing. I made new friends with people across the whole country, and I got to experience so much brain power all in one place. The parade of states was an amazing experience as well. Also, enjoying the tournament with my team was the best feeling in the world because everyone contributed to the preparation for the tournament, and everyone deserved to be there.

What do you like most about participating in Science Olympiad?

Michael: The camaraderie that Science Olympiad fosters is unmatched. Effective communication is imperative for any Science Olympiad program, and the team has gotten close as a result of it.

Kristen: Everything! I love getting to learn a new subject every year, making a new group of friends, and causing massive shenanigans in hotels.

Josh: The best part of Science Olympiad is the people. My teammates are always working their hardest to be the best they can be, which pushes me to be better. My coaches encourage everyone on the team, and they are always there to answer questions and give us valuable insight about how to succeed in the various events. Also, this is a club where I get to further my education on science topics that I enjoy learning about, allowing me to grow as a student outside of the classroom.

What is your favorite event?

Michael: Anatomy and Physiology

Kristen: Obviously, Write it, Do it!

Josh: My favorite event is Experimental Design, followed by Ecology and Hydrogeology.

What advice do you have for students who are thinking about getting involved with this program?

Michael: If you think you have an interest in science (or even just want to be a part of a passionate and tight-knit community), ask about it and check it out. Chances are, you’ll be hooked, especially if Mr. Ramsey is the guy running the show!

Kristen: Just do it, you fool! It's the most fun I've had in all of high school. Seriously, if you're an awkward nerd, join and you'll suddenly have friends.

Josh: My advice is to not wait to get involved. Even if you are hesitant about participating in this club, I would get involved anyway. It does not hurt to try out the club for a little while because if you do not like it you can drop out. But if you end up loving it, and you probably will, then you will have found a club that you enjoy and where you can gain more knowledge and make new friends.

What do you want to be when you grow up and do you think Science Olympiad has helped you toward that goal?

Michael: Physician of some sort. The topics I studied in anatomy and physiology, albeit much less comprehensive, are exactly the topics I will study as a medical student.

Kristen: I want to do computer science. Science Olympiad allowed me to explore a lot of science and taught me that. While I love chemistry, biology and geology, I don't want to study them.

Josh: As of right now, I want to study environmental science and business in college. Science Olympiad has helped with that because events like ecology and hydrogeology have taught me the information that falls under environmental science. These events have reaffirmed my interest and helped me realize that this is something I want to study more.


Allison Carey | Years involved: 1

Andrew Davis | Years involved: 7

How did you first get involved with Science Olympiad?

Allison: Mr. Ramsey talked me into doing it. Plus, a lot of my friends had always done it, so I wanted to see what it was all about.

Andrew: I went to an informational meeting at Ridge Middle School for Science Olympiad. I convinced some of my friends to go too, and we all joined that year. I enjoyed my time and made friends, so I stuck with it.

How did it feel to win the state tournament last year?

Allison: I was not in attendance due to a college visit, which was greatly upsetting. However, I looked on Twitter to see millions of tweets about it and then called [my teammate] Kayla and screamed into my phone while I was in a parking lot. I just remember being in shock and completely ecstatic!

Andrew: It felt so great! Throughout high school, the goal was always to make it to nationals by getting top 2 at states. Solon had been consistently outperforming us during the season, and Centerville and Mason were strong threats too. Additionally, we had lost a lot of key seniors from the year before and didn't have extremely high hopes for making it to nationals. Therefore, it was a surprise that we did make it and an even bigger surprise that we did it by winning at states for the first time in school history! I was proud of my own performance and extremely proud of the team's performance.

Describe your national tournament experience. How did you feel? What did you learn?

Allison: Not being on the actual team but an alternate was a great experience. All alternates need to stay involved because prepping tests for members can actually help you learn more as well and get some insight as to how some tests are made.

Andrew: Nationals was cool in that the scale and intensity of the atmosphere were far beyond any competition I had been to before. Winning a medal was an unexpected, but very proud moment. Leading up to nationals, I did a lot of studying for my events, and the knowledge and skills I accumulated have helped me in college and will, I am sure, continue to give me an advantage.

What did you like most about participating in Science Olympiad?

Allison: I liked making a whole new group of friends with people I probably would have never talked to before.

Andrew: I liked the competition and the friends. The majority of my closest friends, and two of my current college roommates, I met through Science Olympiad. In addition, the competition gave me the incentive to learn and study harder than I ever did for school, and I think that those study skills have helped me in school and now in college.

What was your favorite event?

Allison: WIND POWA!

Andrew: My favorite event was Sounds of Music, when that was still a thing. It combined science and music, two of my favorite things. Although if you wanted a favorite event from last year, I'd have to say Hovercraft, because I enjoyed the physics aspect of it.

What advice do you have for students who are thinking about getting involved with this program?

Allison: Do it! No matter how many funny nerd comments you get, it is a blast and something I wish I had done through my high school years.

Andrew: I would tell them to go sign up right now! After they've signed up, I'd tell them that studying on their own and finding events that they're truly interested in are the keys to being successful in the program.

What do you want to be when you grow up and do you think Science Olympiad has helped you toward that goal?

Allison: I am doing mechanical engineering and so far, the information I learned has been a huge help with classes. In fact, I am taking material science next semester and feel like I know a lot of the material already thanks to the Mat Sci event.

Andrew: I want to be a software engineer or computer science researcher, and Science Olympiad has helped me towards that goal. Events such as Game On helped a little bit with actual computer science topics, but the studying and reasoning skills that I gained through the program have helped me succeed so far in college.

Mentor High School looks to defend their state title heading into 2018, starting by hosting the Region 1 tournament on Saturday, February 24. The ultimate goal is to reach and win the state tournament on Saturday, April 28 at The Ohio State University.

Want your team or students featured on the Ohio Science Olympiad website? Email us at to be considered.