Statewide Science Olympiad draws 900 K-12 students, parents to ASU

By

Penny Walker

Nearly 900 Arizona middle and high school students and parents were connected with college-readiness resources and the opportunity to learn about Arizona State University academic programs and services as part of the annual Science Olympiad State Tournament held March 25 at ASU’s Tempe campus.

“Arizona Science Olympiad was honored to be able to collaborate with ASU faculty and staff to promote STEM education in Arizona,” said Reina Gomez, state director of the annual competition.

Science Olympiad is a national nonprofit organization that is committed to increasing student interest in science literacy. The objective of Science Olympiad is to create interest and build enthusiasm among students for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). This is accomplished through engaging, hands-on activities that encourage teamwork and active participation that enables provides sixth- through 12th-grade students a chance to put their knowledge into action in a competitive environment.

“Seeing the next generation of engineers building, programming, designing and creating was so exciting and rewarding. The faculty and students assisting truly enjoyed working with the students and left feeling inspired by the future of STEM — our youth,” said Hope Parker, associate director, P-14 Engineering Education and Outreach with the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

The students competed in a broad range of STEM-focused Science Olympiad events led by more than 40 ASU faculty members and graduate students, with support from nearly 50 undergraduate student volunteers.

“ASU faculty and graduate students from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering did an amazing job serving as event supervisors and assistants,” said Michele Daley, senior director of recruitment and first-year programs with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “They demonstrated incredible enthusiasm — and a lot of hard work — in imparting science knowledge to younger versions of themselves,” Daley said.

Through a collaborative, university-wide effort, all teams and Science Olympiad supporters who participated in the statewide competition were invited to participate in the ASU Information Fair, which provided students, coaches, parents and guests an opportunity to explore all that the university has to offer while visiting ASU. Representatives from 13 colleges, departments and organizations across the university were present at the fair to share information regarding academic programs and services available at ASU, with a special focus on the STEM disciplines.

“Our goal at the Fulton Schools is to spread awareness, engagement, interest and understanding of engineering and how it plays a role in the world around us; being a part of the Science Olympiad was a wonderful collaborative event to do just that.  We can’t wait to see how these amazing youth change and impact the world,” Parker said.

Additionally, campus tours and a Parent Preview presentation were coordinated by ASU Admissions and Access ASU.

“Not only did the Science Olympiad participants receive information from STEM-focused schools, they also received critical information about how to prepare for college, university admission and the opportunity to explore career interests,” said Sylvia Symonds, assistant vice president of Educational Outreach and Student Services at ASU.

As a part of the resource fair, students also had the opportunity to try the me3®, an interactive online tool powered by ASU that enables students to match their interests to possible careers and college majors.

“I think at the ages many of these kids are, middle schoolers, they really have a lot of ideas of what they want to be, but they don’t know what options there are to get them to the end of this journey. This gives them a start, as a pathway,” said Phillip Everhart, a seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher at Surprise Elementary School in the West Valley.

Everhart said the representation from the liberal arts colleges at the fair was important too, because it broadened the students’ awareness of the many academic options and pathways that are available to them as they begin set and pursue their goals.

“Among the almost 900 middle school and high school students who took part in last weekend’s Science Olympiad are future scientists, doctors, citizens, community leaders, teachers, inventors, Noble Laureates and — I hope — Sun Devils,” said Paul LePore, associate dean with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “To see the energy and excitement in these kids’ eyes as they were 'doing' science — competing and winning awards on behalf of their schools — makes me proud that ASU sponsored this year’s Science Olympiad and could cheer on and support these students’ future academic successes,” LePore said.

For more information, contact Access ASU at 480-965-6060 or AccessASU@asu.edu.

Written by Will Argeros