Education

Teens to tackle hands-on Science Olympiad events Saturday

At the 2012 Stanislaus County Regional Science Olympiad, Central Valley High School students Juan Plasencia and Martina Bernal prepare their robot arm to place objects into bins for a timed event.
At the 2012 Stanislaus County Regional Science Olympiad, Central Valley High School students Juan Plasencia and Martina Bernal prepare their robot arm to place objects into bins for a timed event. Modesto Bee file

Young scientists will head for the Stanislaus County Regional Science Olympiad on Saturday at the Community Science Center on the Modesto Junior College West Campus.

Events begin at 8:30 a.m. in the science building and will wind up with the awards ceremony at 4:30 p.m. inside the Agriculture Pavilion.

More than 550 students from junior and senior high schools around the county will participate in the daylong event. Admission and parking are free at the campus, 2201 Blue Gum Ave., Modesto.

Brian Sanders, MJC dean of science, mathematics and engineering; Derek Madden, MJC biology professor; and Cheryl Goulart, student events program coordinator for the Stanislaus County Office of Education, are organizing the event. They will join more than 150 volunteers who will judge or assist with the competition.

“Such competitions inspire the next generation of scientists,” Sanders said.

The Regional Science Olympiad consists of individual and team events in biology, earth science, chemistry, physics, problem solving and technology. Some events require knowledge of scientific facts and concepts, while others rely on science processes, skills or application.

Several events require students to build devices before the competition. For the wheeled vehicle contest, students design, build and test a vehicle that uses elastic material as the propulsion energy, and for the air trajectory competition, students design, construct and calibrate a device capable of launching projectiles into a target, Goulart said.

The top four teams in each division advance to the Northern California Science Olympiad State Finals, scheduled for April 18 at California State University, Stanislaus, in Turlock.

This year’s Science Olympiad is sponsored by the Stanislaus County Office of Education, U.S. Bank, Modesto Junior College and the Education Foundation of Stanislaus County.

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