Penn State students to host third annual Science Olympiad for high schoolers

January 12, 2023

By Tim Schley

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) carries over from high school to Penn State this weekend as a student club hosts the third annual Science Olympiad at Penn State University Park on Jan. 14. 

The Science Olympiad Alumni at Penn State (SOAPS) club was founded in 2020 by a group of former participants in the Science Olympiad, a national competition for high school students that challenges teams to 23 STEM-related events spanning a wide range of disciplines. According to club president Zoe Goldblum, a third-year undergraduate studying immunology and infectious disease, the goal for this invitational is to introduce STEM to students in a fun way while also preparing teams for national competitions. 

She added that the multidisciplinary nature of the competition is reflected in the student club’s board, which has officers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, Eberly College of Science, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, and College of Engineering.

“Science Olympiad has given me and so many other club members exposure to fields of science and engineering that we are now majoring in,” Goldblum said. “It allows students from all backgrounds to learn about so many different fields and think about a potential career. We wanted nothing more than to give current competitors the same joy we got from competing.”

Twenty-eight teams from 16 schools across four states will be competing in events ranging in disciplines from astronomy to environmental chemistry to remote sensing. While many of the lab-related events are closed to the public, people are encouraged to attend the Bridge, Flight, Scrambler and Trajectory events held in Alumni Hall in the HUB-Robeson Center, cheering on the students as they design and build gravity-powered vehicles, rubber-band-powered planes and elastic-powered catapults.

“Build events are incredibly exciting to watch,” said Arman Ahmad, a third-year undergraduate studying biology and SOAPS vice president. “In the Trajectory competition, the catapult launches a pingpong ball to specific targets, such as a sandpit or bucket. Students are given a target distance and height, which they have to launch the ball to as close as possible, and the teams are scored on how close they get to the target.”

The public also is encouraged to attend the awards ceremony, scheduled for 5 p.m. in 100 Thomas Building.

“Anyone interested in seeing teams earn medals for their successes during our event are welcome to sit in and watch!” Goldblum said.

More information on the invitational can be found on the SOAPS website.


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