TJSO returns with successful records in Fairfax invitational tournament

Photo courtesy of Jefferson’s Science Olympiad club recently returned with successful results from the Fairfax Invitational tournament, in which its teams placed second and fourth.

Esther Kim, Opinion Editor

On Jan. 10, Jefferson’s Science Olympiad team (TJSO) competed in the fourth annual invitational tournament hosted by Fairfax High School. Out of 40 teams that participated in the event, TJSO’s red and white teams placed fourth and second, respectively.

“It’s pretty early into the competition season,” senior John Park, captain of TJSO, said. “The invitational was held very soon after winter break, and many teams at the competition weren’t as prepared as they could have been.”

The invitational, which was restricted to Division C high schools in the state, comprised of participants from Oakton and Madison High Schools, with the latter placing first in the tournament.

Invitationals are usually held as an opportunity for teams to gain better experience competing in a stressed environment and are unrelated to the regional and state tournaments. Virginia will be holding three regional tournaments this year, with the first being held on Feb. 14.

“Even though we made our teams a bit late this year, everyone has worked really hard to learn all the materials,” Park said. “We still have a long way to go before we are ready for the regional and state competitions, but we are going to go pretty hard this year.”

Science Olympiad is a nationally recognized tournament for students in third to 12th grade in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). In Jefferson, students participate in 23 events that range from Astronomy and Experimental Design to Cell Biology and Fossils.

TJSO usually begins the year by receiving applications from students who wish to join the team. After selecting the students based on the application and the scores they received on the club-administered test, the club divides the members into three teams: blue, red and white. The team usually meets during Friday A blocks during eighth periods.

Last year, TJSO successfully completed its season by winning the state Science Olympiad tournament and advancing to nationals, in which they placed 23rd. The current team hopes to continue Jefferson’s success in Science Olympiad by returning with successful results in the regional and state tournaments, which will be held later the year in spring.

“The team members still have improvements and adjustments to make, but I’m very proud of how well they did on the tournament,” Park said. “I expect this year to be one of the best in TJ Science Olympiad’s history.”