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  • At the 2016 Science Olympiad event at Caltech, participants from Canyon Crest Academy set up a robotic arm.
    At the 2016 Science Olympiad event at Caltech, participants from Canyon Crest Academy set up a robotic arm.
    Credit: Bob Paz for Caltech
12/04/2017 16:55:22

Caltech to Host SoCal State Science Olympiad Tournament

Competition for K–12 students fosters interest in STEM study

For the third consecutive year, Caltech will host the Southern California State Science Olympiad Tournament, a K–12 science and engineering competition that exposes students across the nation to hands-on experience in scientific fields.

The statewide event will be held on campus on April 7, 2018. More than 1,000 participants are expected, and the competition will be coordinated by approximately 100 Caltech student and faculty volunteers.

Science Olympiad, one of the country's premier science competitions, has been fostering student interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields since the 1980s. Each year, tens of thousands of elementary, middle, and high school students participate in regional meets, with the winners in the latter two groups advancing to the state and national levels. Tournaments consist of multiple events that involve laboratory investigation, hands-on engineering, and/or a written test on subjects including biology, physics, chemistry, engineering, computer science, and Earth science.

The winning two teams from the event hosted by Caltech—one from middle school and one from high school—will compete at the 2018 National Tournament hosted at Colorado State University May 18–19, 2018.

Miriam Sun, a Caltech sophomore biology major and member of the Science Olympiad planning team, says Caltech has helped produce the event for more than a decade, allowing the Institute to play a key role in creating a powerful tool for STEM outreach to local students.

In fact, Sun adds, based on reports from students more than 20 percent of current Caltech undergrads say they participated in the Olympiad when they were in grade school. "For many of us," she says, "it first sparked our interest in STEM fields and helped us gain experience in various subjects we wanted to pursue further."

Written by Jon Nalick