Budding scientists to compete Saturday

March 3, 2011
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A Middle School student participates in the 2010 State Science Olympiad Battery Buggy competition.

A Blevins Middle School student participates in the 2010 State Science Olympiad Battery Buggy competition. Source: Colorado Science Olympiad Alumni Facebook page.

UCCS will host the Colorado Science Olympiad Southern Regional Tournament for middle and high school students from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

More than 900 middle school and high school students from around southern Colorado will compete in events that range from building a Rube Goldberg machine to a CSI style forensics exercise and wind and percussion instrument building contests. This year will see the number of events rise to 37, culminating with the Sumo Bots Final Competition at 3:45 in the Gallogly Events Center.

“The teams design a remote controlled robot prior to the event,” Kathleen Fitzpatrick, programs manager, National Institute of Science, Space and Security Centers, Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education, said. “The robots then compete to try and push the opponent out of the ring. It’s a fun engineering event.”

62 teams from communities from throughout the area including Pueblo, Walsenburg, Alamosa, Colorado Springs, Monument and Denver are currently scheduled to participate in Saturday’s events. Each team is comprised of 15 students and two to three teachers acting as coaches.

After the Sumo Bots finale, the UCCS Physics Classic Rock and Roll Orchestra will perform while scores are tallied. Members of the band include Jim Burkhart, associate dean, College of Letters, Arts and Sciences; Zbginiew Celinski, professor, Physics; Bob Camley, professor, Physics; Tom Christensen, dean, College of Letters, Arts and Sciences; Sam Milazzo, senior instructor, Physics; Gene Abrams, professor, Mathematics; and Chip Benight, professor, Psychology.

Medals will be presented to the top three finishers in each event with trophies, plaques and ribbons to the top five teams. The winners will be eligible to proceed to that state competition on April 16 at Colorado School of Mines and, potentially, for national competition.

UCCS has hosted the Southern Regional Science Olympiad for more than a decade.

“It’s a great event, seeing so many kids excited about science and engineering,” Fitzpatrick said. “This event is fanning the fire of the next generation of scientists and engineers.”

More than 125 individuals from the UCCS community, US Air Force Academy and industry are volunteering their Saturdays to assist in the event.  We couldn’t make this happen without them. “A special thanks to all the volunteers,” Fitzpartick said. “We couldn’t make this happen without them.

For a PDF schedule of Saturday’s events visit http://www.coloradoscienceolympiad.org/forms/coscio2011-sreg-schedule.pdf

Science Olympiad is a national 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. These goals are achieved by participating in Science Olympiad tournaments and non-competitive events, incorporating Science Olympiad into classroom curriculum and attending teacher training institutes. For more information about Science Olympiad, visit http://www.soinc.org

The Center for Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Education, part of the National Institute of Science, Space and Security Centers, aims to enhance the workforce of scientists and engineers through programs and activities that target elementary through college students and teachers. The center divides its activities into teacher professional development, student curriculum, teaching and learning research and development, and student success intervention.

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