Now in its 35thyear, one of the Science Olympiad’s regional competitions will be held at St. Andrews University on March 30. Junior high students from nine different school across the Carolinas will compete in events from Anatomy and Physiology to Battery Buggy. Beginning at 9 a.m., 23 events will be held. However, the best part of the event is sure to be the awards ceremony. Teammates from each school excitedly cheer one another on. The top teams will advance to the state competition held in Raleigh, NC.
In an effort to gain prospective students, as well as encourage junior high and high school students to get excited about science, the Science Olympiad was born. On Nov. 23, 1974, 15 schools from across the Carolinas and Virginia traveled to (then) St. Andrews Presbyterian College to compete in the first ever Science Olympiad. The brainchild of the Division of Natural Science, Mathematics and Health Science, this event promoted fun and learning in areas such as biology, chemistry, physics and engineering.
Word of this event spread from state to state. In 1983, John Cairns, a teacher from Delaware, with help from Dr. Gerald Putz, a school district consultant in Michigan, realized the importance of sharing this event with the nation. Dr. Putz, also a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, sought funding from the U.S. Army. After a leadership seminar to determine level of interest, the U.S. Army agreed to sponsor the first ever Science Olympiad National Tournament. It was held in May, 1985, at Michigan State University with 17 states participating.
It’s hard to believe that such an exceptional competition got its roots in the U.S. at St. Andrews. Currently, the Science Olympiad hosts over 450 tournaments a year with over 8,000 teams competing in all 50 states. This year the National Science Olympiad competition will be held in Ithaca at Cornell University. Next year the national competition comes home as the event will be hosted by North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
The love of science runs deep at St. Andrews, from its expansive John Blue Lab to the faculty who meticulously put together science related events. Rooney Coffman, Director of Logistics, who has seen the evolution of the event over the years, couldn’t be prouder that it continues to foster the love of science in young minds. It goes to show how a small idea born inLaurinburg can have an enormous impact on the nation.
(This release was written by Kaitlyn Lomax, a senior communications major, assisting Dr. Henery as a COM 454 practicum study.)