Thousands participate in science competition on campus

Wednesday, June 4

Two high-school boys headed across University Yard Saturday with some pieces of wiring and duck tape in hand, but they were not en route to repair any possible damage caused by the heavy rain that morning.

The teenagers carried the remnants of their entry in “Robo-Cross,” one of several events in the Science Olympiad which came to campus this weekend. About 2,000 middle and high school students came to Foggy Bottom to participate in the national science competition, which features hands-on contests involving biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and technology. It was co-hosted by GW and the American chemical manufacturer DuPont.

University President Steven Knapp and other GW officials emphasized the importance of the Olympiad in the weeks leading up to the tournament. They said it would highlight the school as one devoted to science and encourage students interested in the sciences to apply.

During the opening ceremony, Knapp said he would waive the GW application fee for all competitors and give a $5,000 annual merit scholarship to any that are admitted.

Alan Sampson, standing at the balloon glider launch where his son was competing, said it was a welcome gesture from the host school.

“My son Josh absolutely loves this place after being here for only a couple of days,” Sampson said. “Considering the price, it’s nice that they are willing to reach out to students who might want to come but may need some extra help.”

Matt Labarge and Jeffery Woo, two high school students from Pennsylvania, said they enjoyed their time at the competition – especially because of its location.

“I liked that it was in D.C.,” Woo said. “Sometimes things like this can be in the middle of nowhere, but there are actually things to do at GW.”

Labarge added, “Staying in the dorms was cool. It made us feel like we were in college or something already.”

The Olympiad teams hailed from 46 states with Solon Middle School of Ohio and Troy High School of California taking home top prizes. The winning teams were presented with a trophy and $2,000 from Lockheed Martin Foundation, a sponsor of the tournament, to develop their school’s Science Olympiad program.

Awards were also given to 20 other teams from 10 different states for cumulative performance.

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