Science Olympiad options

Freshmen at BHS who are interested in Science Olympiad are given the option of doing it through Bismarck High School or Wachter Middle School. Both schools have their advantages and differences, but most BHS freshmen seem to be choosing to do it through Wachter.


Winners. Science Olympiad ninth-graders from the 2020 season won at every competition. “The coaches did a really good job during that season at helping the ninth and eighth-graders,” Wachter Science Olympiad member Lexi Beckler said. Lexi has been doing Science Olympiad for three years now and has won 4 medals.

A lot of schools do not bother offering Science Olympiad ninth graders the option of doing Science Olympiad through the high school or the middle school, but BHS and WMS do.

Giving them the option can let them decide fully whether they are ready to move onto a more competitive student-led program or if they want to stay in a program that is a little less competitive with a couple of extra coaches for when they need help. 

“They [WMS Science Olympiad] have a lot more coaches than we do. The coaches are very organized and diversified,” BHS Science Olympiad coach Scott Weigum said. “They have a select group of events each one of them takes, and they work off of the students. At the high school, we are a little bit less structured – little more independent. They are on their own. We serve like more of a facilitator.”

Around 80 percent of the ninth graders doing Science Olympiad choose to do it through Wachter instead of BHS. Comfort zone has a lot to do with this choice – how comfortable they are with the coaches, the events and other students in it. 

“I like the coaches at Wachter because they strive to make us better as people,” Wachter Science Olympiad member Lexi Beckler said “I have heard bad things about the coaches from older kids, and in all honesty, it just does not sound as fun as it did in middle school.”

The Wachter Science Olympiad team does a really good job of teaching students more about the program while also setting them up for success at BHS. The coaches strive to teach the students and make sure they know what is going on along with being available as often as possible. 

“Our benefit is Wachter does a very good job of getting our students prepared for the high school. Since they do such a good job, it makes our job really easy at the high school,” Weigum said.

Another reason students tend to choose Wachter for their ninth-grade year is that they have a wider array of events, along with being the first to choose events. The ninth graders have normally been in Science Olympiad for two to three years by the time they are in ninth grade, so they know what events they like and what they are good at. According to students, the coaches tend to do a really good job of placing students in the events they like while also being flexible if they do not like an event. 

“They realize that as ninth graders, they are going to have a better selection of events and they can still compete at that middle school level for one more year in events that they are probably, by this time, really comfortable with,” Wachter Science Olympiad coach Wade Curren said. 

A lot of the coaches at Wachter have been coaching for a relatively long time. The coaches are trying to let students have fun and enjoy the program. Their two main goals are to make it to nationals and beat Horizon. 

“This will be my 25th year coaching Science Olympiad and my 20th year at Wachter,” said Curren. “We try to do just a little bit of everything. We want the kids to just have fun and enjoy it. We always kind of have this unwritten rule that we do not lose to Horizon. So there is that competitive piece, plus we have coaches that just want to have fun and see the kids having fun.”

According to coaches, most of the students who are choosing to do Science Olympiad through the high school do so because they are unable to drive, so it is easier for them to do Science Olympiad at the high school. The students who do Science Olympiad through Wachter tend to get rides from upperclassmen. Students’ schedules also play a huge part in where they choose to do Science Olympiad.

“Sometimes what dictates it more than anything is just their schedule or how busy they are or what works best for them. Especially for ninth graders, they may or may not be able to drive yet,” says Curren.