The Regional Science Olympiad held March 17 at St. Andrews University has proven to be a positive experience for area middle school students.
Designed to enhance the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) experience, seven teams competed in a variety of competitive events under the supervision of the science staff at St. Andrews.
The varsity team from Parkwood Middle School (Monroe, NC) finished first in overall competition with wins in Battery Buggy, Crime Busters, Hovercraft, Optics, Road Scholar, Rocks and Minerals, Roller Coaster, Solar System, Thermodynamics and Towers.
Second place went to Sun Valley Middle School (Indian Trail, NC) with a first in Anatomy and Physiology, Disease Detective, Duck Tape Challenge, Ecology and Write It, Do It.
Third place went to West Pine Middle School (West End) with a first in Fast Facts, Herpetology and Meteorology.
“We are very pleased with the level of competition seen at this year’s regional event,” said Rooney Coffman, site director. “We are hopeful that the competition will continue to grow at this level.”
The highest placing team is invited to participate in the state tournament at North Carolina State University later this spring. Last year, more than 900 K-12 teams representing over 18,000 students and 85 counties in North Carolina participated in North Carolina Science Olympiad. These tournaments are rigorous academic interscholastic competitions that consist of a series of different hands-on, interactive, challenging and inquiry-based events that are balanced between the various disciplines of biology, earth science, environmental science, chemistry, physics, engineering and technology. A few of the events students participated in were Anatomy and Physiology, Crime Busters, Towers, Optics and Ecology.
Top finishers at the state level advance to the national tournament to take place in Colorado.
The first recorded Science Olympiad was held 41 years ago at St. Andrews. Dr. Donald Barnes, Dr. David Wetmore and Rooney Coffman were the originators of this event. Fifteen schools from North and South Carolina and Virginia participated in this event. This Olympiad was a daylong event, with competitions and demonstrations for high school students in the areas of biology, chemistry and physics. There were four event periods during this day, and each event period had one fun event (beaker race or paper airplane), one demonstration (glassblowing and holography), and one serious event (periodic table quiz or Science Bowl).
An article by Wetmore was published in the Journal of Chemical Education in January of 1978 documenting the success of recruiting students through Science Olympiad. Education leaders who observed the Olympiad took the concept to the national level in 1985. Today, 7,800 teams in 50 states compete in Science Olympiads