March 2016 Newsletter

A Closer Look #158


Kevin Strychar & Bill Steffen

AWRI Assists with the 2016 Regional Science Olympiad

Hundreds of middle and high school students convened on the GVSU Allendale campus for the Region 12 Michigan Science Olympiad hosted by the GVSU Regional Math & Science Center.  Events covered 41 different topics, and there were separate middle school (B) and high school (C) competitions.  Over 1000 students from more than 60 different teams competed.

A record number of people from AWRI assisted in this year’s Michigan Science Olympiad tournament.  Dr. Janet Vail, AWRI research scientist, and Ann Hesselsweet, AWRI science instructor, supervised the Green Generation “C” event.  Eighteen teams of high school students were challenged to demonstrate their knowledge of general ecological principles, problems from human impact on the environment, and solutions to reducing and reversing harmful effects.  Dr. Vail was a Region 12 Science Olympiad award recipient for leadership and continuing service.   

AWRI graduate student, Nick Gezon, facilitated the Green Generation “B” competition for middle school students.  Nick was a participant in Science Olympiad when he was in high school.  He reports that “as an alumnus of the Science Olympiad program, I was thrilled to help create and run the Green Generation B event. I found it to be equally challenging and interesting creating a Science Olympiad test.  I was given a sense of hope watching the students taking the test and discussing the questions with one another knowing that some of these kids will be future leaders of sustainability, fighting to put the natural world at the forefront of how our society is organized.”

The middle school Meteorology event was co-supervised by Dr. Kevin Strychar, AWRI Associate Professor, and Bill Steffen, WOOD TV 8 meteorologist. The theme of that event was Everyday Weather.  According to Dr. Strychar, “we had 37 middle school participants – all very excited about weather.  The students did so well that we had to make 5 tie breakers.  These kids were exceptionally bright, very good team workers, and determined to be the best they could be.  It was wonderful to be part of Science Olympiad again.” 

Dr. Charlyn Partridge, AWRI Assistant Professor, took the lead for the high school Invasive Species event. Students visited stations that tested their knowledge on a large number of invasive taxa. This was the first time this event was offered and a total of 18 teams participated. Dr. Partridge stated that the “students demonstrated a remarkable amount of knowledge regarding the consequences of invasive species and how to potentially manage them. This bodes well for future scientists coming from this region of the state.”

AWRI Professors Dr. Rick Rediske and Dr. Bopi Biddanda served as resources for schools preparing for the Science Olympiad.  The top teams in Michigan will compete at the state level on April 30 in East Lansing. The National Science Olympiad Tournament is scheduled for May 20-21 at the University of Wisconsin -Stout in Menomonee, Wisconsin.