Local students in regional Science Olympiad
MARQUETTE — The Winter Olympics in Beijing was nearing the end on Saturday, but another Olympics was just getting started.
Northern Michigan University on Saturday hosted the Region I Science Olympiad, which brought in middle and high school students from across the Upper Peninsula to compete in activities related to STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Activities took place through NMU’s Science Building.
The Science Olympiad tournament, according to NMU, is to “inspire the next generation of scientists, health professionals and engineers.”
Renee Jewett, program coordinator for the Glenn. T. Seaborg Mathematics and Science Center at NMU, helped coordinate the annual even in which nine middle school teams and five high school teams competed.
The COVID-19 pandemic had put a halt to the 2021 event.
“After last year off, it’s great to have some teams back,” Jewett said.
Saturday activities ranged from ornithology, food science and cell biology to “Ping Pong Parachute,” “Crime Busters” and “Crave the Wave.”
With “Mousetrap Vehicle,” students had to construct a vehicle that was propelled by a mousetrap, Jewett said.
Another activity, she said, involved the students building a bridge, testing it and finding out if they could get the bridge to hold the most sand without it breaking.
Other activities include “Electric Wright Stuff” and “Dynamic Plant.
Jewett said there was a wide variety of activities.
“It’s all over the place, but in terms of STEM education, it’s just getting students excited and interested in STEM,” Jewett said.
For many schools, Science Olympiad is an after-school extracurricular activity, with preparations starting at the beginning of the school year, she said.
Rachel Kramer, a sixth-grader from Holy Name Catholic School in Escanaba, took part in the bridge activity. Saturday marked her first Science Olympiad.
“I learned that if you have supports on all sides, it helps it hold a lot more,” she said. “It’s a lot lighter.”
It probably helped that she has an interest in science anyway.
“I just kind of like doing the experiments and the learning,” the sixth-grader said.
The winners in Saturday’s competition will advance to state competition at Michigan State University in late April.
“We’re here to make it a great experience for the kids,” Jewett said.
That required a lot of impromptu adjustments. For example, it was discovered that all the available air pumps were broken as Saturday’s event took place, so a quick shopping trip became necessary to provide the proper equipment.