Spotlight on science

State Science Olympiad April 4-5; national event coming in 2016

April 1, 2014

Students work through a problem in the 2012 state Science Olympiad at UW-Stout.Close to 1,000 students from 45 schools will head to University of Wisconsin-Stout for the state Science Olympiad competition Friday and Saturday, April 4-5.

The College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, which will provide more than 125 student, faculty and staff volunteers, is hosting the event.

The state tournament will be a warmup for an even bigger competition. UW-Stout has been awarded the 2016 national tournament, which is expected to bring to campus 5,000 students, teachers and parents from every state.

One of the premier science competitions in the U.S., Science Olympiad challenges students in many areas of science, as well as technology and engineering.

UW-Stout has hosted the state meet about a half-dozen times since 2001, including two years ago. It's one reason Professor Forrest Schultz, chemistry, put in a bid for the national tournament May 18-21, 2016. "We've been successful at hosting these tournaments for years," said Schultz, who is the state tournament director and president of the Wisconsin Science Olympiad.

Forrest SchultzUW-Stout competed for the national bid against other universities, including Princeton, Caltech and major Midwestern schools from the Big Ten Conference.

Officials were impressed with UW-Stout's science facilities and, more importantly, how they're used. "There's an applied nature to the Science Olympiad events, and that's what the national tournament officials want to experience at UW-Stout," Schultz said.

UW-Stout, Wisconsin's Polytechnic University, stresses hands-on learning and career preparation. The main science complex, Jarvis Hall, reopened in 2010 after a $43 million renovation.

Schultz already has begun working with local officials to prepare for the national event and influx of people in 2016. The approximately 2,400 student competitors will stay in residence halls. Sponsorship opportunities are available by contacting Schultz, 715-232-5009, or Juliet Fox, Stout University Foundation, 715-232-2676.

UW-Stout also will host the state tournament in 2016, about six weeks before the national event.

This year's state meet will kick off with a daylong expo Friday, April 4. Students can visit university classes, try hands-on activities in labs, take campus and science lab tours and tour three area companies, Phillips Medisize, Cardinal Glass and Fairmont Minerals. Xcel Energy and Mayo Clinic Health System Menomonie will offer on-campus presentations.

Competition in 28 categories runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 5, in Jarvis Hall Science Wing and the Memorial Student Center. An awards ceremony begins at 4 p.m. in the Great Hall of the student center.

The state champion advances to the national tournament May 14-16 in Orlando, Fla.