LEMS is moving towards year 2 of Science Olympiads

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 12:13pm

For more than 35 years, Science Olympiad has led a revolution in science education. With shrinking college enrollment in science majors, falling science test scores and a nationwide shortage of K-12 science teachers, Science Olympiad continues to challenge, inspire and inform the academic and professional careers of students and instructors across America.

Fulfilling a desire to bring excitement to science education and competitions, Science Olympiad was founded in 1983 by educators Dr. Gerard Putz and John Cairns. What began as a grassroots assembly of science educators has now become one of the premier science competitions in the nation. Currently Science Olympiad holds 240 regional competitions in 47 states, engaging close to 200,000 students.

Teamwork is a required skill in most scientific careers today, and Science Olympiad encourages group learning by designing events that forge alliances. In Tower Building, an engineering whiz and a kid from wood shop can become gold medallists. In Write It, Do It, the good scientific vocabulary and writing skills of one partner are as important as the construction skills of the other. The team is made stronger by the diversity of its members. Students are motivated to reach out to schoolmates as never before to build their team of 15 students. Many schools have more that one team - "varsity" and "junior varsity."

Maryland Science Olympiad recruits science and technology professionals to oversee the competitive events. These "Event Supervisors" channel intellectual and motivational energy from their professions. A new Maryland synergy is created between supervisors, professors, graduate students, high school and middle school science teachers, and students. Maryland Science Olympiad enhances STEM education on multiple levels.




The Tournament

national medalsScience Olympiad competitions are like academic track meets, consisting of a series of 23 team events, which are performed by a small group, usually with two team members. Each year, the selected subset of events is rotated to reflect the ever-changing nature of genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, astronomy, mechanical engineering and technology. Each team of 15 students will prepare throughout the school year to compete in Science Olympiad tournaments held on local, state and national levels. Unlike some science competitions, Science Olympiad requires that students DO science during the competition rather than just report about a science project.  By combining events from different disciplines, Science Olympiad encourages a wide cross-section of students to become involved. Emphasis is placed on active, hands-on, group participation.

Types of Events

Events in the Science Olympiad have been designed to recognize the wide variety of skills that students possess. While some events require knowledge of scientific facts and concepts, others rely on science processes, skills or applications. This ensures that everyone can participate, including students from technology classes or advanced science classes.

  • Lab based events are those like Chemistry Lab, Forensics, or Can't Judge A Powder By Its Color, which require students to complete a lab activity during the competition. 
  • Research based events are those events like Anatomy, Disease Detectives, and Fossils which encourage students to prepare research materials prior to the competition and use them in the event.
  • Pre-built events are engineering competitions in which students build a device to accomplish a task or goal, and the device is tested onsite at the competition.

Team Spirit

Although some events in the Science Olympiad are based on individual achievement, all events involve teamwork, group planning, and cooperation. That is the real essence of the Science Olympiad. Our emphasis is on advanced learning in science through active, hands-on, group participation. Through the Olympiad, students, teachers, coaches, principals, business leaders, and parents work together as a team toward common goals.

We would like to provide an alternative to the "isolated scientist" stereotype and remind students that science can be fun, exciting, and challenging all at the same time. In college and beyond, students will find that the team spirit and good sportsmanship they develop during Science Olympiad will be deciding factors in their success.