DALLAS, Pa. — Penn State Wilkes-Barre welcomed hundreds of middle and high school students throughout the region for an annual science competition on March 8.
The Northeast Regional Science Olympiad tournament brought about 600 students from 27 high schools and 15 middle schools across northeastern Pennsylvania to participate in a daylong interscholastic competition. The event has been held at Penn State Wilkes-Barre for more than two decades.
Science Olympiad is an international nonprofit organization devoted to improving the quality of science education, increasing student interest in science and providing recognition for outstanding achievement in science education by both students and teachers. Students compete in intramural, district, state and national tournaments during their time with Science Olympiad. Teams of 15 students are challenged by STEM-related events that span biology, earth science, chemistry, physics, engineering and inquiry. Students usually work in pairs building devices for testing at tournaments, studying for core knowledge challenges and preparing for rigorous hands-on lab experiments. The tournament challenges and activities help prepare them to work as part of a team in a future STEM career.
The Northeast Regional Science Olympiad tournament featured a total of 46 events (23 for middle school and 23 for high school) covering various disciplines of science. Interactive events were also a large part of the day, with competitive activities like “Storm the Castle,” where student teams built mechanical devices to launch objects over a wall, and “Wheeled Vehicle,” in which students constructed a vehicle that had to travel a specified distance and navigate obstacles with precision and accuracy.
“We look forward to hosting Science Olympiad each year,” said Timothy Sichler, assistant teaching professor of electrical engineering at Penn State Wilkes-Barre and coordinator of the Northeast Regional Science Olympiad tournament at the campus. “It’s amazing to see the turnout of students in our region who are interested in STEAM and related career paths. We’ve seen former Science Olympiad competitors go on to become medical professionals, engineers and beyond. Some of them first sparked their interests in the sciences through their participation in the tournament here at Penn State Wilkes-Barre.”
The day concluded with awards and closing ceremonies in the Athletic and Recreation Building at Penn State Wilkes-Barre. Chris Bohinski of Pa Live! served as host of the award ceremony for the second year. The highest scoring teams from the local tournament have been invited to compete in the state tournament to be held at Penn State Altoona on April 22. In the high school division, those teams were Athens Area High School, first place; North Pocono High School, second place; Dallas High School, third place; Stroudsburg High School, fourth place; Pocono Mountain East High School, fifth place; and Wallenpaupack Area High School, sixth place. In the middle school division, those schools were Harlan Rowe Middle School, first place; North Pocono Junior High School, second place; Abington Heights Middle School, third place; Wayne Highlands Middle School, fourth place; Wyalusing Valley Junior/Senior High School, fifth place; Pocono Mountain East Junior High School, sixth place; Lake-Lehman Junior/Senior High School, seventh place; and Wilkes-Barre Academy, eighth place.
Sponsors for the event were Gosh Yarn It, C&G Tutoring and Mark J. Sobeck Roof Consulting Inc.