Pioneer & Slauson excel at the Michigan Science Olympiad State Tournament; advance to nationals

Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School improved upon their 2018 fourth place finish to place second in Division C at the Michigan Science Olympiad State Tournament held at Michigan State University on Saturday, April 27. This has earned them an invitation to compete in the 2019 National Science Olympiad Tournament at Cornell University on June 1. The only other time Pioneer has advanced to the national stage was back in 1994.

The driven Pioneer team is led by student captains EmJ Rennich and Sampoorna Ravikanth, mentored by staff advisor Jenni Wilkening and U-M graduate student Yifan Li. The team of 15 students plus two alternates competed in 24 different events spanning fields of science and engineering, and were overcome with emotion at the award ceremony when they discovered their 185 total points edged out third place Troy (211 points), just behind state champion Northville (121 points). Only the top two schools in Michigan advance to the national tournament.

Photo by  Marc Klinger

“Making it to nationals is a dream come true,” said Rennich, who along with several of her teammates, has been participating in Science Olympiad for 11 years, starting as a second grader competing in the Washtenaw Elementary Science Olympiad. Wilkening described this year’s team as “a very talented, bright group of student scientists” and added, “but most importantly they work hard and want to help each other succeed.”

Their giving spirit was evident this season, with several Pioneer Olympians carving out time to also coach events for the Slauson Middle School program.

Last year, Slauson earned its first national invitation since 1992, dominating the state competition. This year, led by new Head Coach Jon Hanson and Staff Advisor Kim Jaster, they were ecstatic to continue the streak, finishing in second place (204 points) behind state victor Lakeshore (173 points).

Photo by Katharine Chang

While some of their rivals struggled with a few events on competition day, Slauson managed to place in the top 25 of the 60 teams participating in each of the 23 Division B events.

“The competition was very tough this year,” said Hanson, “so it took a lot of consistency across all the events to qualify for nationals. I couldn’t be more proud of this group of hard-working kids and volunteer coaches.”

The Pioneer team placements were:

First Place: Anatomy & Physiology (Sriram Garapati, Linda Yang), Forensics (Anna Klinger, EmJ Rennich); Second Place: Codebusters (Polina Chuikov, Abby Ng, E. Rennich), Dynamic Planet (Siri Vangavolu, Manish Venumuddula), Fossils (Garapati, Vangavolu), Geologic Mapping (Chuikov, Vangavolu), Protein Modeling (Ami Suresh, Venumuddula, Yang), Water Quality (Aditi Ganesan, Chuikov); Third Place: Boomilever (Jack Bajcz, Klinger), Source Code (Owen Rennich, Ng); Fourth Place: Astronomy (Ariel Mobius, Vangavolu), Circuit Lab (Arnav Brahmasandra, O. Rennich), Mousetrap Vehicle (Bajcz, E. Rennich); Fifth Place: Disease Detectives (Chuikov, Garapati), Experimental Design (Ganesan, Ng, Suresh), Wright Stuff (Bajcz, O. Rennich); Sixth Place: Thermodynamics (Brahmasandra, Venumuddula); Ninth Place: Fermi Questions (Haesue Baik, Mobius), Mission Possible (E. Rennich, O. Rennich); 13th Place: Herpetology (Baik, Klinger); 15th Place: Chemistry Lab (Mobius, Venumuddula); 20th Place: Designer Genes (Garapati, Suresh); 34th Place: Write It Do It (Ganesan, Yang); and 35th Place: Sounds of Music (Klinger, Yang).

The Slauson team placements were:

First Place: Battery Buggy (SriKarthik Vangavolu, Sonia Walter), Roller Coaster (Alain Zhou, Oskar Hanson); Second Place: Disease Detectives (Ire Odetola, Avi Patel); Third Place: Boomilever (Charlie Peterson, Odetola), Elastic Launched Glider (Antony Williams, Zhou), Write It Do It (Kai Sylvester, Williams); Fourth Place: Mystery Architecture (Odetola, Williams), Road Scholar (Peterson, Sylvester); Fifth Place: Density Lab (Hanson, Liana Veerasamy), Thermodynamics (Bavani Vijay, Veerasamy); Sixth Place: Dynamic Planet (Sakthi Vijay, Sophia Wang); Seventh Place: Circuit Lab (Hanson, Patel), Water Quality (Max Janevic, Walter); Eighth Place: Aerial Scramble (Vangavolu, Watler), Anatomy & Physiology (Patel, B. Vijay), Meteorology (Vangavolu, S. Vijay); Ninth Place: Experimental Design (Patel, S. Vijay, Walter); Tenth Place: Source Code (Bala, Ryan Wang); 11th Place: Potions and Poisons (Ashley Kou, S. Vijay); 14th Place: Herpetology (Janevic, Sylvester); 15th Place: Fossils (Kou, Petersen); 19th Place: Heredity (Janevic, Kou), Solar System (Hanson, Sylvester); and 25th Place: Crime Busters (B. Vijay, S. Wang), Game On (S. Wang, Zhou).

Huron High School’s Science Olympiad team also performed well enough at the Region 9 tournament to earn an invitation to the Michigan Science Olympiad State Tournament.

Huron’s team placements in the top 15 were:

Seventh Place: Astronomy (Poulami Ghosh, Aarnav Unadkat); Eighth Place: Experimental Design (Rhea Cong, Sujai Jaipalli, Eileen Su), Fossils (Melodie Jin, Benjamin Pollitz); Ninth Place: Disease Detectives (Rhea Cong, Pooja Yalavarthi); Tenth Place: Anatomy & Physiology (Arya Kamat, Eric Heng), Designer Genes (Rhea Cong, Eric Heng), Thermodynamics (Samuel Yang, Benjamin Zhang); Eleventh Place: Circuit Lab (Aarnav Unadkat, Samuel Yang), Forensics (Arya Kamat, Pooja Yalavarthi); Fifteenth Place: Protein Modeling (Rhea Cong, Poulami Ghosh, Pooja Yalavarthi).

The Michigan State Science Olympiad Tournament official results can be found here:


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1 Comment

  1. It’s worth mentioning that Clague also made it to the State Tournament this year and came in 11th overall. They placed in the top 10 in 5 events.

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