University News

Students Demonstrate Science Skills during 30th Annual Science Olympiad Regional

February 7, 2017

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MACOMB, IL – More than 200 middle/junior high and high school students will visit Western Illinois University Saturday, Feb. 11 to demonstrate scientific knowledge and technological skills during the 30th annual Illinois Science Olympiad Regional competition.

The science competition emphasizes team practice, teamwork, competition and recognition of getting students excited about careers in scientific and technology-related fields. The event is made up of 46 events; 23 for middle school/junior high students and 23 for high school students in the areas of biology, chemistry, astronomy, earth science, physics, computers, health sciences and technology.

Events promote teamwork, group planning and cooperation, while allowing students to experience risk-taking, strategic-thinking and decision-making. The events align with the Next Generation Science Standards and allow students to demonstrate the application of technology and engineering skills in various science disciplines.

Ten middle/junior high and seven high schools will be participating the different events across the campus.

Horrabin Hall will house many of the events, such as Electric Vehicle, Hovercraft, Robot Arm, Mission Possible and Towers. Other events include map reading (Road Scholar), astronomy events (Reach for the Stars) and science word competitions (Fast Facts).

Brophy Hall Gym will host events called Wright Stuff and Helicopters, where students design, build and test rubber band-powered flying devices. The WIU Department of Biology will host events related to ecology, invasive species and microbes.

An optics event and a Rube Goldberg type event (Mission Possible) will be hosted by the WIU Department of Physics, while the WIU Department of Chemistry will conduct a chemistry lab event, a materials science event and forensics events for high school students and a Science Crime Busters competition for both the middle/junior high school.

The WIU Department of Health Sciences will sponsor the Disease Detectives events, and the WIU School of Nursing will host an event in anatomy and physiology. The WIU Department of Geology will supervise the geology events and the WIU Department of Geography will sponsor a meteorology and remote sensing event.

The WIU Deparmtent of Engineering Technology will supervise an event where students design an original computer game. A Bottle Rocket event, where students test premade water-powered rockets carrying an egg payload, will also be held north of Currens Hall.

The Science Olympiad begins with opening ceremonies in the WIU University Union Grand Ballroom at 8:15 a.m. and then moves to Horrabin, Currens, Waggoner and Brophy Halls where various events will be conducted. The Olympiad's closing ceremonies will be held in the Grand Ballroom at 4 p.m., where individual events' winners will be announced, as well as the announcement of which teams will be advancing to the Illinois Science Olympiad State Tournament, which will be held at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign April 29.

A schedule of events may be found at

The Western Illinois Regional Science Olympiad is hosted by the WIU Department of Curriculum and Instruction's Maurice G. Kellogg Science Education Center and the WIU College of Education and Human Services. Additional support comes from the faculty and students of the WIU departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Geology, Physics, Engineering Technology, Health Sciences, Mathematics and Military Science, plus the School of Nursing and teachers from local schools.

The following schools have registered to participate in this year's Olympiad:

Division C (Grades 9-12) - Canton High School; Farmington Central High School; Hamilton High School; Hartsburg Emden High School; Lewistown High School; Macomb High School and Mercer County High School.

Division B (Grades 6-9) - Farmington Central Junior High School; Griggsville Perry Middle School; Hamilton Junior High School; Lewistown Junior High School; Macomb Junior High School (both a varsity and junior varsity team); Mercer County Junior High School; Stark County Junior High (both a varsity and junior varsity team) and West Central Middle School.

The Science Olympiad competition is a national pre-collegiate program designed to increase student interest in science, to improve the quality of science education in both middle and high schools and to provide recognition for outstanding achievement in science began in the state of Illinois in 1985. The Olympiad has members in all 50 states, totaling more than 12,000 actively participating K-12 schools.

For more information about the WIU competition, contact Don Powers, Western Illinois Regional Science Olympiad director and WIU professor of Curriculum and Instruction, at (309) 298-1258 or visit Information about the Illinois Science Olympiad program can be found at, while information about the National Science Olympiad program can be found at

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