Parkland hosts the Regional Science Olympiad Tournament

Photo by Scott Wells | The Prospectus  Mahomet Seymour High School student Cole Johnson (left) and Kenneth Buchanan (right), display the project in they designed for the Mission Possible event of the regional Science Olympiad event being hosted at Parkland College on March 7, 2015

Photo by Scott Wells | The Prospectus
Mahomet Seymour High School student Cole Johnson (left) and Kenneth Buchanan (right), display the project in they designed for the Mission Possible event of the regional Science Olympiad event being hosted at Parkland College on March 7, 2015

Humna Sharif
Staff Writer

On Saturday, March 7, 2015 Parkland College hosted the regional Science Olympiad for the fifth year in a row. Schools from around Champaign-Urbana, and other schools in the district 505 area, participated in different events of the tournament. The Science Olympiad took place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Hundreds of students attended the event. There were eight teams from five different schools in the Middle School/Junior High category (division B) and eighteen teams from eleven schools in the High School category (division C) of the tournament.

23 different events were organized for the Science Olympiad this year for teams in each category. The topics tested competing teams on their knowledge about life science, earth and space science, physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering.

The events of the day were spread out all over the Parkland campus. Students studied fossils and insects and took part in contests such as “picture this” in the natural science department, which was located in the L-wing. According to the Parkland College blog, other areas of the college were also very busy. From students testing bungee cords and operating robots in the U-wing, to building bridges and Rube Goldberg devices in the X-wing, from the “mission possible” event in the gallery lounge, to testing their self-designed operating vehicles in the gym, students were demonstrating their science skills almost everywhere on campus.

Luke Thomas and Matt Buescher, two juniors from Nuega High school, said that they’ve been participating in the tournament since junior high. This year they designed a project for the “mission possible” event.

“We definitely had a lot of fun with it and enjoyed the hands on experience,” Buescher said.

Medals were awarded to teams that scored the highest in their respective contests whereas trophies were given to schools with the overall top scores. The Parkland Science Olympiad falls within the lager Illinois Science Olympiad (ISO) program so the highest scoring teams will go on to compete in the state wide Science Olympiad, which takes place at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on April 18, 2015. Two division B schools and 5 division C schools will advance to the state tournament this year.

The highest scoring schools were:
– Division B, 1st place: Franklin Middle School, 2nd place: St Matthew Catholic School.
– Division C, 1st place: University Laboratory High School, 2nd place: Mahomet Seymour High School, 3rd place: Centennial High School, 4th place: St Thomas More High School, 5th place: Champaign Central High School.

Parkland’s Science Olympiad is put together each year by a group of directors that includes faculty and staff members. Dr. Amy Nicely and Professor Erik Johnson of the natural sciences department, and Natasha Capell, a graduate student enrolled in the Curriculum and Instruction program at the University of Illinois, were the key figures behind the organization of the event this year. .

“I was responsible for most of the general tournament details, as well as coordinating supervisors to run each of the events,” Dr. Nicely commented.

Professor Johnson was responsible for helping with general details of the tournament. He was in charge of Parkland-specific tasks, such as reserving rooms and working with the marketing department to generate a press release and blog post about the event. Capell served as Parkland’s liaison to the coaches for each team participating. She kept the coaches updated about tournament information and helped answer their questions.

According to Dr. Nicely, events such as the Science Olympiad are very important because they encourage young students to become interested in science. They also expose students to the wide variety of disciplines that exist within the scientific community. Many of the events also provide students with a hands on experience and bring science to life.

“Students get a chance to build devices and test them in the competitive environment, they develop their problem-solving skills and work in teams to accomplish specific goals,” Dr. Nicely elaborated.

For more information on the tournament, the national Science Olympiad website can be accessed through http://soinc.org. More information about the event organized at Parkland can be found at http://blog.parkland.edu/?p=1317