David M. Granger (


AUBURN -- More than 850 middle and high school students from across Alabama will be on the Auburn University campus Saturday, March 6, participating in the 14th annual Regional Science Olympiad.

Each of 58 teams from 39 schools will bring 15 young science enthusiasts, their parents and teachers, said Steve Stuckwisch, tournament director and an assistant professor in Auburn's Department of Mathematics.

The Olympiad, sponsored by the AU College of Sciences and Mathematics, is one of six regional competitions staged throughout the state as a prelude to the State Science Olympiad in April and the National Science Olympiad in May.

"The Science Olympiad is designed to increase student interest in science and improve the quality of science education," says Stuckwisch.

Teams will participate in 23 events, and Olympic-style medals will be awarded to first-, second-, third- and fourth-place teams in each event. Team and coach certificates also will be awarded based on total points garnered to schools placing first, second and third place.

This year's competition features three new events for Division B teams, made up of students from grades 6-9 -- a "Battery Buggy" event, where teams design and build a battery-powered vehicle to maneuver a specified course; "Mystery Architecture," where teams design and build a specified structure; and "Reach for the Stars," which asks teams to solve astronomy problems and identify constellations.

New events for Division C teams -- grades 9-12 -- include practical data gathering, which asks students to solve practical science problems; "Reach for the Stars; and "Science Clue," where teams knowledge of science-related items and concepts are tested using a set of clues which become increasingly specific.

Other events center around the teams' knowledge of biology, chemistry, geology, physics and other sciences.

Top teams in each of the divisions will move on to state contests. State competition for Division B (Grades 6-9) will be April 17 at Alabama School of Mathematics and Science in Mobile. The Division C (Grades 9-12) State Olympiad will be April 24 at Troy State University.

The National Science Olympiad for Divisions B & C will be May 13 at the Chicago Field Museum on the campus of the University of Chicago.

Science Olympiad was created in 1983 as an alternative to traditional science fairs and single-discipline tournaments for grades K-12. Events are team oriented with an emphasis on active, hands-on participation.

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CONTACT: Stuckwisch, 844-6575.