Westminster Hosts Missouri State Science Olympiad for Third Consecutive Year
Participants and families gathered in Champ Auditorium for the awards portion of the competition. PHOTO BY JIM MALVEN.
BY THERASIA BRAUTIGAM
Westminster hosted the Missouri State Science Olympiad Tournament for the third consecutive year on Saturday, April 8. The tournament allows middle and high school students from across Missouri to compete in various science-based events.
According to Westminster Vice President and Dean of Faculty Dr. Carolyn Perry, more than 1,000 students participated in the Olympiad, and over 1,000 others traveled to the college to coach or support.
The Missouri Science Olympiad website says that the competitions are like “academic track meets” and describes the tournament as “a way to improve the quality of science education, increase interest in science and show recognition for achievement.”
Each school team is allowed to enter 15 members to compete in various events that rotate every year. These events include anatomy, meteorology and hovercrafts.
Dr. Jim Concannon, associate professor of education, helped with an event called Wright Stuff. This competition, named after aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright, required students to create an airplane and use rubber bands to make it propel. Judges assessed the planes on the amount of time they could stay in flight.
According to Concannon, Westminster is able to do a great job hosting the Science Olympiad because of extensive support from faculty and students, many of whom spent several hours on Saturday judging and proctoring events.
Maggie Adair, a first-year student at Westminster, switched roles this year by helping at an event instead of competing.
“It was fun to be on the other side,” she said.
“It was fun to be on the other side.” –Maggie Adair, ’20, on transitioning from participant to volunteer
Adair added that her middle and high school Science Olympiad experience gave her, “lots of different opportunities.” Her team won the Oklahoma State Science Olympiad Tournament all six years she participated, which allowed her to travel to national tournaments across the U.S, she said.
At this year’s tournament, Adair helped monitor and grade tests for an event known as Fast Facts. The competition required students to complete a grid that consisted of four letters, with words from a certain category. The words had to begin with the corresponding letter on the grid and match the provided category. Adair said that she enjoyed helping with this event, but she did not get to interact with students as much because it was only testing.
Concannon stated that it was a fun experience to watch the students become excited about the events and build their hopes for qualifying for nationals.
The closing ceremony, where participants learned their placing for events and nationals, took place in Champ Auditorium. Concannon said that the awards ceremony is “the greatest” because so many students and families are gathered together, excited about the outcomes of the day’s competitions. He added that the auditorium was fuller during the awards ceremony than he has seen it at any Westminster graduation.
Concannon said that Westminster’s hosting of the Science Olympiad benefits not only the competitors, with a “compact” campus that is easy to navigate, but the college as well.
“It’s a great way to bring attention to Westminster and get the name out across the state,” he said.
“It’s a great way to bring attention to Westminster and get the name out across the state.” –Jim Concannon, education professor and Science Olympiad volunteer
The tournament is also a way for many clubs and organizations to raise money. For example, the Education Association had a food stand set up between Westminster Hall and the Historic Gymnasium and sold drinks around campus throughout the event.
Concannon said that Westminster is a “great community” that is able to assemble campus-wide participation in order to host “overall smooth” and successful events like the State Science Olympiad Tournament.