More than 500 high school students from at least 25 high schools will be competing in science and engineering events at the Science Olympiad Erie/Niagara Regional Competition. For the first time, it will be held at Buffalo State. Most events take place in the college’s Science and Mathematics Complex on Saturday, February 10, beginning at 8:15 a.m.
“You don’t have to be a scientist to figure out who is winning the mousetrap car races or the helicopter competition,” said Elisa Bergslien, associate professor and chair of Earth Sciences and Science Education. She is campus coordinator of this year’s regional competition, which includes high schools from Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Wyoming counties. Laurance Hiller, ’98, is the regional organizer. He teaches physics at Nichols School and coaches its Science Olympiad teams, for which he twice received the “Coach of the Year” award.
“Each school has at least one team of 15 students competing in events that include designing experiments and competing with apparatuses they built,” said Bergslien.
The students have been designing, studying, refining, and testing since September. Some teams took part in a scrimmage held at Buffalo State in December, which was a practice run for this Saturday’s event. The winners of the regional will go on to the statewide tournament in March at Le Moyne College. Each team’s ultimate goal is to compete in the National 2018 Science Olympiad Tournament in May.
“Most of Saturday’s events will be held in the Science and Math Complex,” said Bergslien, “although we need Houston Gym for the helicopter and hovercraft events.” Families and friends will be on hand to cheer the teams.
“The Science Olympiad is a lovely idea,” said Bergslien. “Students work in teams, so they learn to collaborate. They get hands-on experience in applying science and engineering skills, and that helps them gain a deeper understanding of scientific principles at work. They get to see science in action.”
From 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., a STEM Fair will be held in the atrium of the Science and Mathematics Complex. Participating schools, event sponsors, and select Buffalo State STEM departments will set up tables for displays, information, and demonstrations. Tours of the Technology Building will also be offered. Throughout the day, Buffalo State students, faculty, and staff will provide directions and supervise events.
At 4:00 p.m., winners will be announced in the Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall. “It’s really exciting and competitive,” said Bergslien, “and students develop skills and friendships that last a lifetime.”
Update posted February 14, 2018:
The five winning teams were Williamsville East High School, St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute, Williamsville North High School, Nichols School, and Canisius High School, with Springville-Griffith Institute as the alternate. More than 25 high schools participated.
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