GW to host Science Olympiad

More than 2,000 middle to high school students, teachers and family members will arrive on the GW campus for the Science Olympiad National Tournament at the end of this month.

The two-day competition on the Foggy Bottom and the Mount Vernon campuses will include a series of hands-on science activities focused primarily on biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and technology. One hundred and twenty student teams from 46 states will participate in the event, which is co-hosted by the University and DuPont.

The Olympiad is an annual science competition for pre-college students that has been held around the country since 1985. Teams are divided by school, and those with the highest total ranking are declared the winners.

“GW is so very pleased to be hosting the 2008 Science Olympiad National Tournament,” said Chris Kormis, assistant vice president for University relations. “This is ‘the’ science competition for our nation’s children.”

Ed Caress, former GW professor and an organizer of the event, said the Science Olympiad National Tournament will highlight GW as a school devoted to science.

“GW is well known for studies in government and politics, but is not as well known for science and engineering,” Caress said.

“We have excellent science and engineering departments, but they are smaller than those at other major research institutions. I believe this event will display to the public and prospective students that we have truly excellent departments, and we hope they will consider coming to GW to study science and engineering.”

Participants will compete in more than 50 activities on May 30 and 31 – including 14 that are open to the public. Two popular events are the “junk yard challenge,” where students are presented with materials and asked to solve problems, and the “balloon launched glider,” a competition to keep a glider airborne after launching it from a balloon.

Administrators relied heavily on Dean of Freshmen Fred Siegel, who coordinated the competition at the University of Delaware in 2002, to bring the Science Olympiad to Foggy Bottom.

“It was not hard to convince the national Science Olympiad leadership that there would be great advantages to the organization to have the tournament come to our nation’s capital,” Siegel said.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) introduced legislation in the House of Representatives this April lauding the University for hosting the event. There is no scheduled date for a vote on the bill.

Of the 5,000 guests participating in the event, Kormis said 1,200 will pay to stay in residence halls on the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses.

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