Science Olympiad State Finals on Saturday

Hawaii State Science Olympiad

When the Hawaii State Science Olympiad began more than a decade ago, only one school — Mililani High School — fielded a team. Now in its 11th year, this “academic track meet” has drawn over 100 teams and has engaged more than 2,000 students from elementary, middle and high schools from across the state.

On Saturday, the Science Olympiad’s 2015 Hawaii State Finals will be held at Leeward Community College. It’s one of more than 300 regional and state tournaments taking place across the country as part of the National Science Olympiad program.

“What’s really amazing about Science Olympiad is that there’s something there for anybody, because there are different types of students who are interested in different topics,” says HSSO director Franklin Allaire.

While the Olympics offers a slate of competitions to test an athlete’s physical prowess, the Science Olympiad challenges a student’s intellect and creativity across disciplines. There are events in topics as diverse as chemistry and robotics to anatomy and forensic science.

Hawaii State Science Olympiad

The crowd pleaser each year is the “Bottle Rocket” contest, which turns empty plastic soda bottles into skybound projectiles (using, of course, a standardized launching system). And the competition isn’t to see how high a bottle rocket will go, but how long it will hang in the air before touching down.

But many of the contests change from year to year. The “Dynamic Planet” challenge focused on glaciers one year, and volcanoes the next. And there are new events, like this year’s “Green Generation” (which is a computer modeling challenge).

“This year, there’s a little more emphasis on sustainability and recycling,” Allaire notes.

Team coaches are all teachers that volunteer their time, and often incorporate Science Olympiad competitions into their school curricula. All of the Science Olympiad programs are standards based, meeting both local and national standards, and Allaire says they are seen as a model program for “next-generation science standards.”

Much of the events at Saturday’s state finals are open to the public, running from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. across the LCC campus. The full schedule is online.

Winners will have the opportunity to compete in the 2015 National Tournament, which will be held May 15-16, 2015 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Hawaii State Science Olympiad

Bonus: Listen to our interview with HSSO State Director Franklin Allaire, who previewed Saturday’s event on Hawaii Public Radio last night:

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