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University to host fourth annual science competition

Submitted by Rachel Wright on February 26, 2014 – 7:30 pmNo Comment

Courtesy of Arkansas Science Olympiad

The fourth annual Arkansas Science Olympiad tournament will be held at UALR on Saturday, April 12, 2014 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Olympiad has scientific challenges in five event categories: life, personal and social science, earth and space science, physical science and chemistry, technology and engineering, and inquiry and nature of science. The events are on a rotation and a new event is tested while an old event is taken out.

Twelve high schools and 14 middle schools throughout Arkansas will compete in the event categories. Each team may have a maximum of 15 students to represent their school. There are a total of 18 events. The events will take place all over campus. The Olympiad has about 150 to 200 volunteers, and about 70 are student volunteers, said State Director Eric Kaufmann.

Some of the UALR students will run the events while others will act as ambassadors for the visiting students. The ambassadors will help teams get around campus. The events will take place throughout campus. There will be three volunteers per event.

There are 26 teams competing this year. In the first year of the Science Olympiad in Arkansas, only six teams competed. That number increased to 12, and then to 18 in the following years. Arkansas is the most recent state to have a Science Olympiad, and has more teams then several other states.

The winners are determined by event supervisors.

“There are no ties at all,” said Kaufmann. “The scores are added up and the lowest score gets first place. First place gets an automatic invite to the national competition.” Sixty teams compete at the National Science Olympiad taking place this year in Orlando, Fla. Kaufmann said that each event has a first, second and third place (gold, silver and bronze medals).

There are three different kinds of event categories. The first is a written test. A pair of students representing a school will collaborate and take a test. Another is a combination of a test and demonstration of knowledge such as the “Maglev” event. In the Maglev event competitors are “tested on their knowledge of magnetism and related topics,” according to the Science Olympiad rule manual. Next, competitors must build a track and car propelled by magnets. The team that builds the track and car that goes the furthest and most quickly wins.

The third is a construction event. Students will display their knowledge of how things work though construction in events such as the “Boomilever” event. In the Boomilever event, students construct a lever from wood and adhesive to lift large amounts of weight. Teams are allowed to enter their boomilever built before the competition. That device is impounded before the competition’s demonstration so alterations cannot be made after entry.

“A third of the events rotate out each year, so students get to see new events,” said Kaufmann. “These are trial events.” The events and tests are written by professors and graduate students.
Each event is 50 minutes long, except the construction event which is 15 minutes long.

In addition, there is a contest for most original tee shirt design and a team spirit award.

For students interested in the competition, registration is now open. Contact Eric Kaufmann at (501) 569-8054 for more information.

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