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1,200 local students compete in STEM challenges during annual Science Olympiad

  • Students testing their hover craft during a Science Olympiad competition.
  • Forest Hills Eastern High School students competing in a forensics challenge.
  • Zion Christian School students completing a puzzle as a part of the Pentathlon event.
  • Allendale High School students watching their hovercraft move down the track.
  • Grand Haven High School and White Pines Intermediate School students showing off their medals.

Posted on March 19, 2018

More than 1,200 local middle and high school students spent March 17 dissecting thermodynamics, solving crimes, constructing towers and much more at Grand Valley during the 34th annual Region 12 Science Olympiad tournament.

Students from more than 60 middle and high schools from across West Michigan showcased their knowledge in biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and technology during various contests on the Allendale Campus. The annual event is facilitated by Grand Valley’s Regional Math and Science Center.

“Students learn about success and failure and get to see how their peers from other schools work to achieve the goal of making it to the state tournament,” said Kristofer Pachla, RMSC director.

A total of 22 teams will now advance to the state tournament on April 28. Lakeshore Middle School won the top prize in the middle school division, while Grand Haven High School took first place in the high school division. For a full list of winning teams, visit the RMSC website.

“This event is beneficial to students because it allows them to expand their knowledge of the STEM fields while gaining a deeper knowledge and understanding of a unique area of study in addition to their school curriculum,” said Chelsea Ridge, RMSC math program coordinator. “They learn about everything from mineral identification for rocks and minerals to the engineering practices of refining a roller coaster.”

This year, the Region 12 tournament was sponsored by Van Andel Education Institute, AcenTek Foundation, Haviland USA, Webb Chemical, National Defense Industry Association - Michigan Chapter, Luurtsema Garden Center, Allendale Grand Coney and Trail Point Brewery.

Science Olympiad is an international non-profit organization devoted to improving the quality of science education by increasing student interest in the field, while providing recognition for outstanding achievements in science education by both students and teachers.

During Grand Valley's first Science Olympiad Tournament in 1984, 26 teams competed from schools in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Allegan and Oceana counties. Approximately 70 teams sign up to compete each year.

For 27 years, Grand Valley's Regional Math and Science Center has provided educational resources and programs to K-12 students and educators across Michigan.

Each year, approximately 100 faculty and community members also volunteer their time to facilitate events, write tests and engage with students by providing feedback.

The RMSC collaborates with approximately 6,000 students and more than 600 teachers in approximately 42 school districts within Kent, Ottawa and Montcalm counties each year. The RMSC is also part of the MiSTEM Network, Region 8, focusing on improving equity and access to STEM education, literacy and workforce.

For more information about the Science Olympiad Tournament, contact Chelsea Ridge, RMSC math program coordinator, at (616) 331-3172.