Mentor Science Olympiad Invitational: A Community Effort

Columnist Drew Parker tells us what brought teams from all around to MHS this past weekend

Mentor Science Olympiad hosted their annual invitational this weekend for schools from throughout the region


Mentor Science Olympiad hosted their annual invitational this weekend for schools from throughout the region

Drew Parker, Contributor

Science Olympiad is ferocious, with participants from 88 schools taking over 12 hours of their time on Saturday to… take tests? As weird as it sounds, many students across the nation from grades 10-12 participate in this extracurricular. Most of these students started in middle school; the team includes not just all grades in the middle school, but also freshmen in high school. But what exactly is Science Olympiad?

What is Science Olympiad?

Science Olympiad, abbreviated SciOly, is a National STEM-based competition in which teams of up to 15 students compete in 23 different events against other schools to win medals, ribbons and trophies. The competitions start locally but are held across the country. It is similar to athletics as there are Regional, State, and National competitions. According to Mrs. Pugh, the head coach of Mentor SciOly, “It is a great way to learn more in depth concepts and how to be a team player.”

Curious NHS volunteers attempt a SciOly event

Events are usually grouped into two categories: Build events and test events. In build events, participants construct a mechanism that pertains to the rules for the event and are scored on how well the build works. The building process is done outside of the competition, with people taking several hours to build in their free time. The test events require studying and the creation of either a cheat sheet or binder, depending on the event. Overall, the time commitment put in by each school, regardless of if they are considered rivals, is astounding.

About the Invitational

Last Friday, the Mentor SciOly team was required to stay at school until around 8 p.m. to set up the invitational. From the Hub, we set up signs, created a hospitality area, and further organized for the next day. I could not stay for the whole time, but we made heavy progress in the time period.

Now, to the actual invitational. As mentioned before, there are 88 teams, coming from both middle schools and high schools. There are also teams here that come from outside the state, such as Shady Side Academy, which came here from Pittsburgh. It occurred on Saturday, February 11 and is a large event for not just Mentor, but Ohio and the nation as a whole. There were six 50-minute time blocks to partake in events, which is standard for Science Olympiad. I participated in one event, though I was not required to as Mentor does not compete at their own invitational.

Report During the Event

Shady Side was the first to arrive, and after helping them find their rooms, I got to talk to their bus driver. He was really nice and thanked me afterward. Solon also arrived early, so I helped them find their room as well, starting a trend of people being lost in the school for the next couple hours.

I arrived here at 6:30 a.m. to help my team set up and get assignments. As of 7:15 a.m., I have been helping people find their way around this school and they are all considerate. Luckily, the team is not alone in our endeavors because many members of our community volunteered to help run this competition. Parents from both middle schools and the high school are helping with concessions, check-ins and running events, to which I could not thank them enough. Student members of the National Honors Society (NHS) also stepped up to the occasion, also helping to guide people through the hallways.

Being a guide, I also get to hear the remarks of people who are fascinated with this school. Multiple times, I heard people commenting on our immense variety of extracurriculars, such as Star Wars Club. Even though they find this school confusing, our guests take genuine interest in things as mundane as our lights and drinking fountains. From these comments, I can tell that our school is in great shape and wisely used the money that it is budgeted.

Report After the Event

Two middle schoolers reporting to test their wheeled vehicle

Seven hours later, I came back to the homeroom to scribe my findings. I helped with a Division B (middle school) event called Wheeled Vehicle. I was a timer and had the opportunity to talk with one of our NHS volunteers. They referred to themselves as a “dumb jock,” but I saw that they had really insightful thoughts. The person was genuinely interested in the competition and saw all of the people from differing backgrounds conversing together. They drew a comparison to summer softball, where “you all just make new friends and get along really well.” When looking at the builds, both of us were reminded of creating wooden dragsters in the Flight and Space class, which was offered at Memorial in 7th grade. Of course, these middle schoolers had far more complex builds and the person I was conversing with even seemed shocked at the fact these kids were so young. Being a member of the team, I was glad that people outside of this program are curious about what we do.

Leaving her, I went to go grade tests for a trial event called Memeology. Trial events are either random events that exist for entertainment, older SciOly events, or normal events that were somehow unfair towards certain teams. Memeology is an event we usually run at Mentor High in this invitational to have fun. Based on the responses, I can tell that the teams here really enjoyed not just this event, but also being at Mentor in the first place.

A response recorded on one of the Memeology tests

Grading these tests took the better part of two hours, which was honestly a nightmare to complete. Overall, there were over 50 tests that I had to grade at least part of, but the responses I saw did brighten my day a bit. The stress put on me to finish grading was tough to get through, but I am glad I did because seeing the faces of the teams who placed top 8 in both Division B and Division C (high school) made me really happy.

To Ben, a friend of mine, this invitational is just another competition. To others, this is an opportunity to practice. A sentiment expressed by coaches is that this invitational helps to bring people together, form bonds with other teams, aid fellow coaches/teams, and get more practice in. The sentiment I express is rather similar to the ones expressed by coaches, though I focus on the idea that we form a family, not just within our team, but with other teams as well. Even if we compete against each other, we still will help each other succeed in our respective events.


With many months of planning and days of setting up, the invitational went without a hitch thanks to both parent and student volunteers. Interviews with our guests determined they were happy to be at the invitational, with the coaches seeming excited to participate in the 23rd annual Mentor High School Science Olympiad Invitational. The Mentor SciOly team thanks every school who made their way to this invitational and hopes we can have as successful an event next year.