By: Julee Cobb
Kansas State University Salina has been helping junior high and high school students bring science to life for almost 20 years. The K-State Salina campus acts as one of five regional locations for Kansas Science Olympiad, a competition consisting of 46 events that focus on biology, physics, chemistry, earth science, technology and inquiry. On Jan. 14, the university welcomed nine area junior high schools and 11 senior high schools for the 2015 competition.
Events range from supporting weight on a bridge constructed with the lightest materials possible to launching rockets made from empty plastic bottles. About one-third of the 46 events changed from the previous year to ensure students are learning new skills. One of the categories, called Wright Stuff, challenges students to design and build their own rubber band powered-airplanes judged on how long they can fly. Don Von Bergen, director of the Salina regional Science Olympiad and head of the arts, sciences and business department at K-State Salina, says this event seems to be a favorite among the spectators and represents a growing industry in which the university has expertise.
“I’ve seen students construct planes that can stay in the air for close to three minutes, and those watching are completely fascinated by the mechanics,” Von Bergen said. “This category connects engineering with aviation, specifically unmanned aircraft, and because K-State Salina offers these programs, students are able to learn more just by being on our campus.”
Von Bergen is also a former high school Science Olympiad coach and says this type of competition is essential to a student’s growth both educationally and personally.
“Science Olympiad helps students develop and apply their creative and critical thinking skills. It also exposes them to new ideas and encourages their competitive spirit,” Von Bergen said. “And it puts the fun in science.”
An awards presentation followed the conclusion of the competition. First-, second- and third-place individuals received a medal, while first-, second- and third-place teams got a trophy. Winners in each event are eligible for the state competition in April.
Click here for the high school results: High School Final Results 2015
Click here for the junior high results: Junior High Final Results 2015