Yale Undergraduate Science Olympiad Holds the Largest Science Olympiad Invitational in its History

On February 10, 2024, the Yale Undergraduate Science Olympiad (YUSO) hosted its 11th annual Science Olympiad Invitational, which was the largest in its history. The invitational brings together hundreds of high school students from across the Northeast region to take part in a wide variety of science-related competitions. According to YUSO’s Sub-Director Leo Shen ’26, event topics range from forensics and air trajectory to astronomy and epidemiology, covering numerous hands-on and theory-based disciplines.

YUSO was founded in 2013 by Ike Lee ’15, Xiyu Wang ’15, and Nick Billmyer ’16. In 2014, the student leaders–in partnership with state directors, regional coordinators, teachers, Yale students, and the University–hosted the nation’s first collegiate Science Olympiad invitational offered to high schoolers. 

YUSO’s goal is to leverage Yale’s resources to offer an educational opportunity to high school students. “We wanted to provide an encouraging but competitive environment to inspire high school students to learn more about various STEM fields while experiencing the facilities and resources the Yale campus has to offer,” Leo explained.

Further, Leo noted that there are two distinctive aspects of YUSO’s invitational. First, it is entirely run by students, with everything from competition judging to logistics planned and executed by Yale undergraduates. Second, unlike many other olympiads, YUSO focuses on equitable access to high-quality competition. “We place a strong emphasis on encouraging local Connecticut schools to participate, especially underfunded or Title I schools,” Leo said. “We believe in providing equitable and meaningful learning experiences for all students.”

Henry Nguyen, a senior at South High Community School in Worcester, attended the February invitational with his school’s science olympiad team and highlighted how much they enjoyed the experience. “Despite the foggy morning, I still had a great time with my team while exploring campus,” he said.

Like Henry, Leo appreciated the collaborative environment among individual teams and also the undergraduate community at Yale. “The highlight of the competition for me was seeing so many of my friends around campus coming together for this unique event,” Leo described. “People from various parts of my life who I never knew were involved with Science Olympiad all came together in support.”

After the event concluded, Leo emphasized how critical these volunteers were to the success of the event and how he hopes other members of the Yale community consider getting involved with YUSO. “As our competition grows each year, we would really appreciate anyone who could help volunteer for the event!” Leo said. “Such a thorough event requires a lot of support to run well, and we welcome anyone no matter their previous experience!”

As one of 74 Dwight Hall member groups, YUSO is a part of the Engage pillar of Dwight Hall’s Engage, Grow, and Advance program delivery model, forging trusted partnerships with New Haven and Connecticut schools, organizations, and agencies through community-centered service. 

You may email yuso@yale.edu to learn about ways to get involved. 

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