Twenty-one Gilbert High School students milled around Room 403 on a Friday afternoon earlier this month, enjoying a few refreshments while they chatted away with their fellow classmates. The large group has formed a bond over their passion for science, and it’s a group that biology teacher Cara Rinehart is proud to oversee.

The get together turned serious for only a few brief moments, as Mrs. Rinehart lauded the students for their work throughout the school year. But this was just the start, she said. She sees the potential, and she sees a group that can be even better during the 2024-25 school year.

More than several heads nodded in agreement.

Mrs. Rinehart is the leader of the GHS Science Olympiad team, and these 21 students are her pupils. She encouraged them to continue on their studies, to work with their teammates in their free time, and even to seek guidance from experts in various fields.

What is Science Olympiad? We’re glad you asked. It’s a nationwide competition for middle school and high school students with the goal of raising the interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), as well as providing recognition for outstanding achievement in team events.

These GHS students are incredibly smart and incredibly talented. And in them, Mrs. Rinehart sees a team that can and will continue to raise the bar and compete with the best teams the state has to offer.

GHS sent these 21 students in two teams — Gilbert Red and Gilbert Black — to the 2024 Iowa Science Olympiad state tournament on the campus of Iowa State University on April 6. The competition included 23 events within earth science, biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering. The events included things such as Air Trajectory, Anatomy and Physiology, Chemistry Lab, Code Busters, Experimental Design, Ecology, and Flight, just to name a few.

The teams did well, placing 13th and 14th, respectively, in the high school division, and three students — Raylene Chen, Sean Wu, and Lena Dinsmore brought home medals.

Dinsmore and Wu finished second in the Detector Building competition, a complex project where they were tasked with designing, coding, and building an instrument that detects voltage and NaCI (sodium chloride) content of water from 0-5000ppm (parts per million). Chen and Wu placed third overall in the Tower event.

Next up for the students is their quest to close the gap between themselves and Ames High School, the 2024 state champion and a regular at the top of the leaderboard. Ames will be joined by state runner-up Cedar Falls and third-place finisher Mount Vernon at the national competition in Lansing, Michigan, in late May.

But it’s about more than medals and the competition for our GHS students. Toward the end of the get together, Mrs. Rinehart asked all of her team members to jot down their answers to one simple question: Why do you take part in Science Olympiad? Their answers show how important learning and camaraderie are as well.

“I like participating in Science Olympiad because I like getting to learn new things about topics that interest me,” one student said.

“I love being part of a team that can do more advanced work,” said another student. “The atmosphere is fun and friendly and yet we still do college-level work. The challenge each event brings will never be easy to solve, but doing well is incredibly rewarding.”

“I like to participate in Science Olympiad because it’s really easy to be involved and it’s a great way to make friends,” said another student.

Learning. Friendship. Competition.

Science Olympiad is all of that. What more could you want?


SENIORS: Jaden Wilson, Raychie Chen, Madeline Lamm, Kalyn Schmidt, Alice Zhang.

JUNIORS: Tyler Anderson, Tristan Limoges, Aldo Schwartz, Andrew Soupir.

SOPHOMORES: Alyse Beyer, Chloe Chen, Maks Koziel.

FRESHMEN: Avery Wilson, Lena Dinsmore, Canaan Dunn, Raylene Chen, Sean Wu, Chloe Lee, Matthew Zhang, Wyatt Jones, Jordan Martinek.