Hundreds of Young Scientists and Engineers to Compete in Regional Science Olympiad

Hands-on competition on March 3 at UC Riverside will result in four winning teams qualifying for the state-level contest

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — More than 750 students from 35 Inland Southern California middle schools and high schools will compete in the Inland Empire Regional Science Olympiad on Saturday, March 3, the first time the popular hands-on competition is being held on the University of California, Riverside campus.

The regional competition will begin at 8 a.m. and end at approximately 5 p.m., and involves 46 science/engineering-themed “tournaments” (23 for middle school students and 23 for high school students) in which teams of students from different schools will work on projects focusing on a variety of disciplines, including anatomy, meteorology, food science, forestry, optics, water quality, computers, robotics, physics, biology and chemistry.

Participation in the tournaments requires a thorough knowledge of science facts, applications, skills and concepts. The tournaments will take place in classrooms distributed within six buildings on campus: the Material Science and Engineering Building, Bourns HallWinston Chung Hall, Physics Building, the Surge Building, and Boyce Hall.

Nearly 20 teams will participate in each of the 46 tournaments at the Regional Science Olympiad, with 4-5 students making up a team.  The student projects will be judged by UC Riverside faculty and local science teachers, with medals and trophies for all 46 tournaments presented at 3:30 p.m. in Rooms 116 and 104, the Material Science and Engineering Building.

UCR Chancellor Timothy P. White and Ronald O. Loveridge, the mayor of the City of Riverside, will present the awards to the winners. At the end of the day, only four winning teams will qualify to compete at the state-level Science Olympiad on April 14, 2012, at Canyon High School, Anaheim, Calif.

Parking is free in Lot 13 for visitors to the Regional Science Olympiad.  School buses can park for free in Lot 26.

UCR’s Graduate Division, the sponsor of the Regional Science Olympiad, will hand out t-shirts to the participating students.  The t-shirts read “Aaahaa! I Am a Proud Future PhD Student” in the back.

Joseph Childers, the dean of the Graduate Division, stressed the need for increasing science literacy at the national level as well as a special need for increasing interest among young students in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) fields in Inland Southern California.

“Our goal in hosting the Regional Science Olympiad at UCR is to introduce the campus and its rich diversity of students to the participants and get these young minds to start thinking about advanced degrees in the STEM fields,” he said.  “UCR has a rich diversity of students, and is an excellent institution to do graduate studies. We also want them to know how much fun science is; how rewarding it can be in terms of intellectual curiosity, career opportunities and advancing knowledge; and why this is a great time to be a budding scientist or engineer.”

Graduate students at UCR make up about 12 percent of the total student population.  Childers’s goal is to increase their numbers to 20 percent of the total student population by 2020.

The Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) at UCR is hosting the Regional Science Olympiad.

“We are expecting 1500 people — students, parents, teachers, and coaches — at the event,” said Prashanthi Vandrangi, a founding member of the SACNAS chapter and an organizer of the event. “This is going to be an exciting and fun-filled day for the participants and visitors. We hope the four winning teams will qualify eventually for the national competition in May.”

Vandrangi, a graduate student in bioengineering, is joined in organizing the event by Vicente Nunez, a fellow-graduate student and the president and founding member of SACNAS at UCR.  The chapter came into being in 2009 due to the efforts of Victor Rodgers, the chair of the Department of Bioengineering.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-6050
Twitter: UCR_Sciencenews

Additional Contacts

Joseph Childers
Tel: (951) 827-4302

Prashanthi Vandrangi
Tel: (951) 827-3386

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