Parts of the MTSU campus will be buzzing with activity all day Saturday, Feb. 23, with the return of the 18th annual Regional Science Olympiad competition.
More than 400 boys and girls representing 15 middle schools and 13 high schools from across the area will be participating. Events will begin at 8:15 a.m. and end at 2:15 p.m. Awards’ presentations will start at 3:20.
Science Olympiad tournaments are rigorous academic competitions that consist of a series of team events, which students prepare for during the year, the national organization’s website said. These challenging and motivational events are well balanced between the various science disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and technology. There is also a balance between events requiring knowledge of science concepts, process skills and science applications.
“It’s excitement,” said Dr. Pat Patterson, an MTSU chemistry professor who is in her 11th year as Regional Science Olympiad director and 14th year altogether. “I’m excited for the (competing) students. I’m excited for the MTSU students to see what these young people are doing.”
Fifty-plus students in a Patterson-taught physical science for pre-service teachers class volunteer for extra credit, she said.
“It’s a good opportunity for them to see what knowledge and skills kids have at the middle and high school level,” Patterson said. “It’s a good outreach experience.”
Competing middle schools include Blackman, Central Magnet, Daysprings (two teams from Greenbrier), La Vergne, Oakland, Rockvale, Smyrna (two teams), Spring Hill, St. Andrews-Sewanee, St. Henry (two teams), St. Rose of Lima and Woodland (Brentwood).
Participating high schools include Blackman, Cascade, Central Magnet, Franklin, Hume-Fogg Academic (two teams), La Vergne, Oakland, Riverdale, Smyrna, Spring Hill, St. Andrews-Sewanee and University School of Nashville.
The top five middle and top four high school teams will advance to the State Science Olympiad Saturday, April 6, at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
“It’s STEM standards in action,” Patterson said of the competition and of all the science, technology, engineering and math needed by the teams and individuals. “It’s not a quiz bowl; it’s not a science fair. It’s science in action. It’s students showing that they know and understand science concepts.”
Twenty-three events are held in both middle (Division B) and high school (Division C). Designer Genes, Disease Detectives, Elastic Launched Glider, Gravity Vehicle and Robot Arm are just five of the high school competition categories. Middle school categories include Mousetrap Vehicle, Crime Busters, Dynamic Planet, Keep the Heat and Shock Value.
Dan Royse, assistant director in the forensics division of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, has agree to present the awards in the Forensics (high school) and Crime Busters (middle school) categories, Patterson said
More than 40 MTSU faculty members and students serve as event coordinators and 60 students serve as volunteers to support the faculty, she added.
In addition to faculty members from across campus and the MTSU administration, Patterson receives community support from State Farm, General Mills , the National Society of Black Engineers, and Murfreesboro City and Rutherford County schools. She also coordinates the Elementary Science Olympiad, which will be held Saturday, May 4, at John Pittard Elementary School.
You can watch a video from the day’s events below.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)