K-12 Students Match Wits in Daylong Regional Science Olympiad


Close to 1,300 elementary, middle and high school students will converge at Cal Poly Pomona on Saturday, March 6, after months of study to compete in the 18th annual Los Angeles County Science Olympiad.

Teams of students representing nearly 90 schools in the county will match wits in competitions that cover a wide range of fields in science such as forestry, thermodynamics, engineering, aerodynamics and cellular biology.

Science Olympiad competitions will take place throughout the day, beginning at 8 a.m., with awards ceremonies scheduled at 3 p.m. for elementary school students and 5 p.m. for middle and high school students.

“Cal Poly Pomona is proud to host the Science Olympiad and these exceptional students,” says University President Michael Ortiz. “The university and the Science Olympiad share a common appreciation for hands-on learning, which engages students in the process of applying textbook knowledge to real world problems.”

The Science Olympiad tournaments are rigorous academic interscholastic competitions that consist of a series of individual and team events which students prepare for during the year. The competitions have a similar format to such other competitive academic events as the national debating competition, academic decathlon or spelling bee.

Competitions include constructing a wheeled vehicle that is calibrated to travel between 5 and 10 meters; building test rockets made of plastic pop bottles; constructing the lightest bridge to carry a maximum standard load; identifying and classifying fossil specimens; and identifying constellations and solving astronomy problems.

The top three teams in the middle and high school divisions will move on to compete in the Southern California state competition on May 1, which will also be hosted by Cal Poly Pomona.

“The Science Olympiad is a celebration of science and science education,” says Gary Widdison, who coordinates the event for the Los Angeles County Office of Education. “In all of the events, students must use what they know to solve problems. This is a fundamental core of good science education: to learn and understand a concept so well that you can apply it in a new situation.”

Helping with the logistics and organization of the massive events will be university faculty and staff; students from the colleges of Education & Integrative Studies, Engineering and Science; and volunteers from Boeing and Edison International.

The regional and state science Olympiads represent a partnership between education and businesses, including Biomedix, Boeing International, CNC Engineering, Edison International, Regent Properties and Trade Union International.

For a list of participating schools, click here and scroll to page 3.