Paly’s Science Olympiad (SciOly) team placed first place in the Bay Area Regional Science Olympiad (BARSO) competition on March 15.

Competing at California State University, East Bay, Palo Alto High School placed first out of 56 teams, allowing the team to advance to the Northern California State Science Olympiad.

Paly’s team, Palo Alto SciOly, is a student-run group focusing on professional science competitions.

Last year, Paly’s SciOly team won States and advanced to Nationals for the first time since the club was established in 1996.

This year’s team aspires to follow the high standards set by last year’s team.

At regionals, high school teams from all across the Bay Area were tested on both engineering tasks and content-specific exams.

Ken Chen, one of the three presidents of Paly’s SciOly team, was pleased with Paly’s performance.

“Regionals is always a bit rough for us because it’s, for many of our members, their first exposure to competition,” Chen said. “While we stumbled a bit in some events, overall everyone performed admirably and I’m very pleased by all the individual achievements by our team members.”

Since its winning performance at BARSO, Palo Alto SciOly has been preparing for State finals, which will take place on April 12. Last year, for the first time in the club’s history, Palo Alto SciOly defeated long-time rival and perrenial powerhouse Mira Loma High School by one point, breaking Mira Loma’s eight year winning streak.

“We’re all very excited to go to States, but we also know that our competition is going to be tougher after our one-point victory over Mira Loma,” Chen said. “However, I’m still very confident that we can win [States] again and make Nationals.”

According to Chen, Palo Alto SciOly team’s strength lies in the widespread support and confidence among teammates.

“While many other competitive teams I know have structured school programs in which many people don’t even know all their teammates until competition day, we’re a close circle of friends always looking out for one another,” Chen said.

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