There was no torch to extinguish, but the New Albany Middle School Science Olympiad teams celebrated the closing of another season by finishing off a few pizzas.

There was no torch to extinguish, but the New Albany Middle School Science Olympiad teams celebrated the closing of another season by finishing off a few pizzas.

The two 15-member teams consisting of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders on the varsity and junior varsity teams celebrated another successful season last week, with medals clinking on their chests.

Both teams qualified for the state tournament held earlier this month. The varsity team won second place at regionals, and the junior varsity team placed fourth.

Only one team could go, though.

"The rules state each program can only advance one team to state," seventh-grade science teacher and coach Kirsten Jaster said.

At the state championships April 12, the New Albany varsity team faced 40 other teams from all over the state and placed 13th.

"To advance to state in Ohio is a big deal because competition is so tough," Jaster said. "The state sends the top two teams to nationals. We're happy to make it to state. That's our frosting on the cake, and this year our frosting was especially sweet."

At all Science Olympiad tournaments, students compete with a partner in as many as eight events, with 50 minutes for each event.

"We compete in 23 events. They vary from what I call construction events, where you can do pre-building to study events with traditional testing," Jaster said.

Events include balloon-launch glider, disease detective, ecology, road scholar, robo-cross and science crime-busters.

"There's 'Reach for the stars.' You have to know everything about the heavens, everything about the stars," Jaster said. "All events are high school to lower college level."

While students have to do studying and memorization for some of the events, Jaster said, the science Olympiad shows students the scientific process.

"It embodies scientific thinking," she said. "There's collaboration with a partner."

Most of the students are on the team for that reason.

"I like science," seventh-grader Anchshan Haridas said. "My mom likes science. I decided to try (the team) last year."

Eliza Matt is a sixth-grader in her first year on the team but had been exposed to Science Olympiad previously.

"My brother's been in it for three years," she said. "I just really love science."

Eighth-grader Jenny Ng has been on the team for three years and said she enjoys the competition.

"I like the competition and fun," she said. "It feels really good when your team gets called up (for an award)."

Though students are involved in science Olympiad from October to April, parents also get recruited.

"There's incredible parental support," Jaster said. "Many come in as a volunteer. We have dads tinkering in the garage with the kids."

jnoblit@thisweeknews.com