Saint Joseph's College Hosts Science Olympiad Regional Tournament

March 1, 2013

Saint Joseph's College sponsored its 23rd annual Science Olympiad Regional Tournament, a competition for high school and middle school students, on February 9. SJC's Professor of Chemistry Dr. Anne Gull and Professor of Chemistry and Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Robert Pfaff served as co-directors of the regional event where 10 high school teams from 8 schools, along with 11 middle school teams, participated.

This year, approximately 350 students competed in a wide range of science and technology events on SJC's campus. Some, such as Anatomy, Forestry, and Astronomy, tested students' knowledge of the subject areas. Others, such as Circuit Lab, Experimental Design, and Codes and Algorithms, tested the students' ability to solve problems they were not previously told about. Mission Possible, Mousetrap Vehicle, and Helicopters required students to build devices before coming to the tournament, and the events tested their performance. In all, both the middle school group and the high school group competed in a total of 52 events.

The day ended with the presentation of medals to the top finishers in each event, as well as medals and trophies for the top finishing teams. In the Saint Joseph's Regional, the top teams were: Wilbur Wright Middle School from Munster, Ind. and Munster High School (Team "White") from Munster, Ind. in first place; Taft Middle School from Crown Point, Ind. and Munster High School (Team "Red") from Munster, Ind. in second place; Burris Middle School (Team "1") from Muncie, Ind. and Marian High School from Mishawaka, Ind. in third place; Rensselaer Central Middle School from Rensselaer, Ind. and Peru High School from Peru, Ind. in fourth place; and Winamac Middle School from Winamac, Ind. and Lake Central High School (Team "B") from St. John, Ind. in fifth place.

The top 5 middle school teams and the top 4 high school teams received invitations to compete in the Indiana State Tournament at Indiana University Bloomington on March 16. In addition, the sixth place middle school team and the fifth place high school team were invited to a wildcard qualifying tournament on March 9 at Ivy Tech Community College - Lafayette.

While both middle school and high school students found success during the day's events, SJC's Science Olympiad program celebrated receiving a $490 grant from the Jasper Foundation. The grant allowed SJC to purchase a magnetic levitation track and timing system, which enabled high school students to compete in Mag Lev, an event new to Science Olympiad, at SJC's Regional Tournament.

In the Mag Lev event, students are required to build a car and attach magnets underneath it. During the event, magnetic repulsion raises the car above the magnetic track. Then, the event supervisor announces a distance to be traveled, and the student must predict how long his or her vehicle will take to travel the determined distance. Pfaff predicts that variations, such as measuring the rate of acceleration or having the vehicles climb an inclined track, will become part of the event in the future.

According to Pfaff, "We truly appreciate the support of the Jasper Foundation that helped allow us to keep SJC's Regional Tournament one of the most competitive in the state of Indiana."

Saint Joseph's College, named a "character-building college" by the Templeton Foundation and a "best Midwestern college" by the Princeton Review, is a four-year, Catholic college offering 27 majors, 4 group majors, 34 minors, and 9 pre-professional programs, complemented by the nationally acclaimed Core Program. Founded and sponsored by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, SJC is located in Rensselaer, Indiana, approximately 90 minutes from both Chicago and Indianapolis, on a park-like campus of 180 acres and has an enrollment of 1,100 students.

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