Buchholz High science students vying for national awards in several prestigious competitions

Buchholz Science Olympiad team

Press release from Alachua County Public Schools

More than two dozen students from Buchholz High School have qualified for prestigious national science competitions over the next few weeks.

After winning the state championship, the school’s Science Olympiad team will be competing virtually in the National Science Olympiad tournament on May 14. The Olympiad requires pairs and trios of students to participate in tests, lab experiments, or building projects in subjects such as astronomy and experimental design, and their performances are ranked to determine a winner.

Students earning first-place awards in the state Olympiad included Andry Nikitin, Rishi Gadikota, Jeffrey Xue, Nicholas Dang, Rena Feng, Ahan Mishra, Keen Zhang, Emmanuel Zheng, Nathan Doty, and Spencer Taylor.

Which students will compete at the national competition is still being determined, said coach and BHS science teacher Marc Moody. 

“The team members continue to support and challenge one another so we can put together the best team for nationals,” he said.

Buchholz Science Bowl team

Just a week later the school’s Science Bowl team will be competing virtually in the National High School Science Bowl semifinals on May 21. The team qualified after winning the North Florida Regional championship. The team members include Andrey Nikitin, Ahan Mishra, Nicholas Dang, Emmanuel Zheng, and Abhinav Pothuri.

Some of the Science Bowl and Olympiad students are among several BHS students who are in the running for other national honors. For example, four students have scored among the top 40 students nationwide in the first round of the competition to select the members of the USA Physics team. Each year the American Association of Physics Teachers and the American Institute of Physics sponsor a series of rigorous exams to select those high school students who will represent the U.S. in the International Physics Olympiad. Those students are Andrey Nikitin, Sam Cohen, Daniel Wang, and Ahan Mishra. Twelve others, Erick Jiang, John Sin, Nicholas Dang, Jeffrey Xue, Keen Zhang, James Jiang, William Guan, Kevin He, Katie He, Jake Frazer, Xiya Zhou, and Tucker Shea, scored high enough to qualify for the next round with the top 400 nationwide. The students are awaiting the results of their final qualifying exams to learn if they will be among the 20 high school students chosen for the US Team. 

In the meantime, five BHS students are waiting to find out if they will be finalists in the competition for a spot on the USA Biology Team, which is organized by the Center for Excellence in Education and USABIOlympiad. Nikitin, Dang, Laurie Wang, William Xu, and Shriya Sivakumar were among the top scorers nationwide in the first round of the competition, and Nikitin’s score was actually among the top 20. If chosen as semifinalists, they will take another test to see if they earn one of four spots on the national team, which will compete internationally in Armenia in mid-July.

The announcements about which students have reached the next round of selections is expected in the next two to three weeks.

“This group is having an amazing year,” said Moody. “It far surpasses anything we’ve ever accomplished before.”

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