Jan. 26, Louisiana Tech University hosted its inaugural Science Olympiad Invitational.
With participating teams from throughout Louisiana and Texas, students had the opportunity to participate in 23 events in two grade-level divisions.
In its 35th year, Science Olympiad is an international non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of K-12 science education, increasing male, female and minority interest in science, creating a technologically-literate workforce and providing recognition for outstanding achievement by both students and teachers.
The Science Olympiad Invitational is a compilation of competitive events comparable to an “academic track meet.” The event tasks reflect the ever-changing nature of genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechanical engineering, and technology. One of the goals of the Science Olympiad is to celebrate and elevate science students and science education to a level normally reserved only for varsity sports programs, something event coordinator Chris Campbell was drawn to early in his career.
“I was drawn to the variety of events when I started an Olympiad team at Simsboro High School around 12 years ago and started hosting an invitational in Lincoln Parish in 2010,” Campbell explains. “After joining Louisiana Tech University’s UTeachTech program in 2015, I was hoping to bring back the invitational – this time at Tech. I’m proud to say that for the 2018-19 school year, Louisiana Tech hosted the only invitational in the region, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.”
In its first year, the Tech invitational had over 100 students from seven schools to participate. Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano, Texas, took home first place in both high- and middle-school divisions. Ruston High School placed second overall in the high-school division and St. James Day School in Sibley placed second overall in the middle-school division.
“Hosting one of the premier STEM competitions in the country at one of the best STEM-education institutions in the country only makes sense,” Campbell said. “It’s something we couldn’t do without the amazing partners involved and hope to continue growing this event on our beautiful campus for years to come.”
Partners helping make the event possible included Tech’s College of Education, College of Engineering and Science (COES), College of Applied and Natural Sciences, SciTEC, UTeachTech, alumni, and sponsors.
“Interdisciplinary collaborations like the Science Olympiad and the UTeachTech program are essential as we seek to better prepare teachers and students for the robust STEM career opportunities in our region,” said Dr. Heath Tims, COES Associate Dean. “We are thankful in COES for knowledgeable and passionate colleagues in our College of Education who are ensuring these innovative and unique opportunities are available, and we are thrilled to have opportunities to partner.”
Among those involved with the inaugural but annual Invitational were staunch Tech supporters and STEM enthusiasts Tom and Cathi Cox-Boniol.
“Tom and I signed up immediately when the call went out for volunteers to help with Tech’s first Science Olympiad Invitational,” Cox-Boniol said. “As a career educator whose life’s work has revolved around science education, I was simply overjoyed to be a part of bringing such an amazing opportunity for students to visit our campus while engaging in challenging and rewarding STEM experiences. I know firsthand the type of life-changing potential this type of event can have and am inspired by how students involved come away feeling truly empowered and equipped for even greater success.
“Tom and I both witnessed nothing short of sheer exuberance from the young people we encountered and can’t wait to be a part of this next year. It’s a win-win for sure as we showcase our beloved Louisiana Tech while investing in the future of the young people we host. We couldn’t imagine anything better.”
To learn more about the Science Olympiad, visit soinc.org. To learn more about how to engage in STEM education outreach efforts at Louisiana Tech University, email email@example.com.