Newswise — On February 1, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia will host the first-ever Philadelphia Science Olympiad "Build It, Study It, Learn It" Day on their campus. Throughout the day, 40 high school and middle school students and their teachers/coaches will learn how to build vehicles that can scream down a track and stop on a dime, create a rotary powered device with wings or blades to safely drop an egg to earth, and 18 other events – all on the way to learning more about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and toward competing in these events themselves in April of this year.
Over the past 30 years, Science Olympiad has grown from a collection of motivated high school teachers to the nation’s premier team-based science competition for middle and high school students. With more than 240,000 students competing on over 6,000 teams, the National Science Olympiad provides a critical first exposure to cutting-edge science for a group of geographically, economically, and ethnically diverse students. It’s been shown that these students disproportionately pursue undergraduate and graduate education in science, technology, engineering, and math, often specializing in the specific subject areas in which they first competed.
Science Olympiad is well established in surrounding communities, but this event is the first-ever for the City of Philadelphia. “One of the neatest things about the February 1st event is that students and coaches from schools that already have successful Science Olympiad teams are coming to demonstrate the events, let our newest team members put their hands on experiments, and share their tips and insights from being in earlier competitions,” says K. Scott Leggett, Coordinator of the Urban Schools Initiative for Pennsylvania Science Olympiad. “We’re honored to have teams from both Harriton High School and Bala Cynwyd Middle School, teams that have placed very well in the national competitions over the past few years,” says Leggett. “In high school and middle school, there’s something extra special about learning about science from your peers in a fun environment.”
“University of the Sciences understands the importance of building STEM skills in Philadelphia middle and high school students,” says Shawn P. Curtin, Interim Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management. “We are excited to host the Philadelphia Science Olympiad ‘Build It, Study It, Learn It’ Day and look forward to supporting the Philadelphia Science Olympiad through future faculty and student mentoring programs and by hosting future events.”
During the past four months, six Philadelphia high schools and four middle schools have signed up for the Science Olympiad program and will be training to compete in the first Philadelphia Urban 2014 competition in April.
Schools involved in Science Olympiad include: Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School, New Foundations Charter School (Northeast), Olney Charter High School, Parkway Center City High School, Swenson Arts/Tech High School, High School of the Future, Holy Cross Parish School, Khepera Charter School, The Philadelphia Charter School for the Arts and Sciences, and the Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School.
Some of the February 1 events designed to make science, technology and math more enticing, relevant and exciting include:
Helicopters: Middle school students will be shown how to construct and test in free flight, rubber-band powered helicopters. The goal is to achieve maximum flight times.
Boomilever: High school students will be shown how to create and build a structure of only balsa wood and adhesive that can be designed to hold items of varying weight.
Scrambler: High school students will learn how to build an egg transport and energy propulsion system designed to speed down a track and stop automatically at a pre-determined length, without harm to the egg.
Bungee Drop: High school students will learn how to drop a mass from a given height and get it closest to the ground without touching.
Solar System: Middle school students will learn how to use their powers of observation to understand extraterrestrial ice and water in the solar system, using pictures and information from NASA’s Mars Rover and Galileo Missions.
Media coverage of the event is invited:
Location: University of the Sciences, Athletic/Recreation Center (ARC), 600 South 43rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Time: 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to see students in action
Parking: Enter on 42nd Street to the parking lot in front of the ARC