Students Enjoy STEM-ulating Time at Regional Science Olympiad at MTSU

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Middle school students use a marble as they begin to compete in the Roller Coaster event during the Regional Science Olympiad Saturday, Feb. 17, in the Middle Tennessee State University Science Building. About 300 combined middle school and high school students, 70 volunteers and 50 teachers and parents attended the event. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

By day’s end — from the super competitive events held in the morning and afternoon to the always exciting awards ceremony — the recent Regional Science Olympiad at Middle Tennessee State University sent nine teams to the upcoming State Science Olympiad.

Ravenwood (Brentwood, Tennessee), Father Ryan and Hume-Fogg Academic (Nashville) and Central Magnet (Murfreesboro) were the top four high school teams. Merrol Hyde (Hendersonville), Fred J. Page (Franklin), Rossview (Clarksville) and Smyrna were the top five middle schools.

The tournaments drew 300 students to the annual event, held Saturday, Feb. 17, to MTSU’s Science Building, Davis Science Building, Wiser-Patten Science Hall and Alumni Memorial Gym.

Science Olympiad is a team competition where students in both divisions compete in 23 events related to various fields of science.

The budding scientists learned teamwork and principles of STEM —science, technology, engineering and mathematics — during the all-day event that featured middle school activities like “Microbe Mission,” “Dynamic Planet,” “Road Scholar” and “Can’t Judge a Powder” and high school challenges that included “Code Busters,” “Robot Tour,” “Air Trajectory” and “Experimental Design.”

“The kids cheering and clapping in such a great venue (large classroom in Learning Resources Center). It’s a lot of fun,” said Kevin Ragland, assistant director in the Tennessee STEM Education Center, the campus organization organizing and operating the event after chemistry professor Pat Patterson handed it off after more than 20 years as chief organizer.

About 70 volunteers, including MTSU students and faculty and nine Nissan engineers, assisted with the event.

Advancing teams will compete at the state tournament Saturday, April 6, at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

The Tennessee STEM Education Center will host a STEM fair led by Central Magnet students for Rutherford County elementary school students on Saturday, Feb. 23, and will run the annual Elementary Science Olympiad Saturday, April 27, at John Pittard Elementary School.