EducationPrimary EducationScienceSecondary Education

Streams of Consciousness: Science Olympiad

This past weekend I had the pleasure of being an event supervisor at one of the regional sections of the Science Olympiad here in the Midwest for the second year in a row. If you are not familiar with this competition it is for K-12 (this one was just middle school and high school) in areas of science and critical thinking. They have categories like Anatomy, Astronomy (my event), Biology, Forestry, Rocks and Minerals, and different types of build events. It is a lot of fun for the kids. When I was a kid I was in the Science Olympiad and I made it a life goal to be able to run an event someday. No joke! I loved science so much and wanted to be a part of science education that I made that a life goal at the tender age of 13.

I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to see young students so excited about science. Not only are they excited about science but the students I interacted with at this event are polite, respectful, and just really great kids. The coaches and the parents of these kids need to be commended for molding and raising such children. I know that the parents of these children are proud when I see cell phones raised to take pictures as they walk into a classroom to take an exam. Which makes me giggle a little since I am not sure what exactly they plan on documenting there is no real action other than pencils moving and erasers erasing. (Look darling, remember that day you walked into a classroom to do…what exactly were you doing?)

So this is a bit of a stark contrast to my daily teaching life since most of the students are taking the general science courses as forced marches because they need that science credit to graduate. A lot of my students could care less about quarks or the fact that evidence for the inflationary portion of the Big Bang was just observed. It takes a lot of effort for me to get them to the point were they start to understand how important math and science are to their everyday existence. It is wonderful when they start to apply what we have learned in class to their life and then start to ask of me questions that were formed out of mere interest. I think someone just needs to make them understand that science is fun and that science is everywhere. I guess that is part of my job.

Do not misunderstand me. I am sure there are a number of students in my class who are really excited about the science courses they are taking in college. I am sure if we polled them a number of them were probably just as excited about it in high school. More than likely someone when they were young showed them something that just blew their mind and that is when the need to learn more about their Universe began. I think that it is important to continue to support programs like the Science Olympiad for that very reason. We need to continue to have outlets to create those moments of “blown” minds to continue to create the next Carl Sagan or Richard Feynman.

Enough of this stream of consciousness I am tired. However, I just wanted to end by saying congratulations to every person involved in this past weekends competition. It does not matter if you were just donating some pencils, coaching, competing, or running the event. You could have be the reason that one of those students grows up to discover the next big thing.

Featured Image: Science Olympiad, credit: NASA JSC


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JoDee is an adjunct faculty instructor of astronomy and physics at various colleges around her hometown in the midwest. When she is not trying to get her cat, Pixel, off of her laptop she is observing variable stars and researching black holes.


  1. March 27, 2014 at 7:07 pm —

    Science Olympiad is a great extra-curricular for those kids who don’t have the interest or talent in fine arts or sports. Definitely something I wish would have been available to me back in high school. I graduated last year from the science ed grad program at the University of Iowa and they encourage all program students to volunteer as event coordinators at our local competition. Most are going to be high school teachers and hopefully many of them start teams or help support teams in schools they become a part of.

    • March 31, 2014 at 1:12 am —

      Apologies for missing this in the moderation queue!

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