ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., -- While athletes can compete in the Olympics only once every four years, students in grades 6 to 12 with an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) can compete in the Science Olympiad every year.
The Science Olympiad competitions, which are considered similar to academic track meets, give students the opportunity to compete against their peers and test their knowledge of chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechanical engineering and more. Students start out at a regional Science Olympiad; from there the top students progress to the state Science Olympiad. The best from each state go on to the national Science Olympiad.
This year’s Central New Mexico Regional Science Olympiad took place at the University of New Mexico’s Johnson Center, Saturday, Jan. 31. District employees have participated in the Science Olympiad as judges and volunteers since 2013 and this year was no exception.
Reginald Bourgeois, the District’s STEM coordinator, said it was “fun working with some of the best and brightest youth that Albuquerque has to offer.”
Bourgeois judged “The Wright Stuff.” Eleven teams from 18 area schools participated in the event named for Orville and Wilbur Wright who designed and built the first successful airplane in the early 1900s.
Each team consisted of two or three students. Before the Science Olympiad, they designed and built small planes powered by propellers that met specific weight and size guidelines. At the event, they demonstrated how well their planes could fly; the longer they stayed in the air, the better the team did in the competition.
“This is the essence of engineering: have a problem, design the answer, build your answer inside constraints, test your answer and then test your answer before others,” Bourgeois said, describing his event. “These young folks were really ‘switched on’ and motivated. They were attentive. They hung on my every word as I asked questions and encouraged model improvements. Some were not so successful, but even they were talking about improvements to ‘make it work’ as opposed to defeat.”
Overall, Bourgeois estimated between 300 and 350 students participated in the all the events.
In 2013, the District signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the University of New Mexico. Each organization pledged to work together to enhance opportunities in STEM education and career paths -especially for minorities and women.
The New Mexico Science Olympiad began in 1987 and is hosted each year by New Mexico Tech in Socorro, N.M. This academic interscholastic competition consists of over 32 individual and team events for which students prepare during the school year. More than 3,000 students from across New Mexico are involved.