Middle/High School Students Fight For State Title and Bid to Nationals at Science Olympiad

Middle/High School Students Fight For State Title and Bid to Nationals at Science Olympiad
Nicole Rahal, 9, prepares to launch her pasta mobile during the 18th annual Los Angeles County Science Olympiad. Many of these participants will return to compete at Cal Poly Pomona for a state title on May 1.
Brain Lapinsky and Zachary Kahn prepare their trebuchet during the L.A. County Science Olympiad.

Some of the top middle and high school students in Southern California will converge at Cal Poly Pomona on Saturday, May 1, to compete for a state title in the Science Olympiad. The top scoring middle and high school teams will move on to represent Southern California at the national competition in Huntingdon, Penn. from May 21-22.

Teams of students representing nearly 50 schools will match wits in competitions that cover a wide range of fields in science such as forestry, mechanical engineering and cellular biology. Science Olympiad competitions will take place from 8:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., with the awards ceremony scheduled at 6 p.m.

Defending national champion Troy High School (Orange County) will be among the 24 participating high schools vying for a bid to the nationals. In the middle school division, El Rancho Charter School (Orange County) is back to see if they can improve their impressive third place finish at last year?s nationals ? but first they have to face fierce competition from 23 Southern California schools.

?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.

?I admire that Cal Poly Pomona is willing to help promote student interest in mathematics, science and engineering,? says Ed Rodevich, director of the California State Science Olympiad-South. ?This program allows students to think at a deeper level. It?s more than factoids, but thinking, reasoning and analyzing.?

?Everyone here is a winner,? adds Rodevich, who is also coordinator of Mathematics & Science K-12 in the Orange County Department of Education. ?What?s most important isn?t if you go onto nationals, but if you pushed yourself and your knowledge.?

Helping with the logistics and organization of the massive events will be several dozen Cal Poly Pomona faculty, staff and students; and volunteers from Boeing International and Edison International. The event represents a partnership between education and businesses, including Biomedix, Boeing International, CNC Engineering, Edison International, Regent Properties and Trade Union International.