UW-River Falls Hosts First Science Olympiad Border Battle

Jan. 23, 2012— On Jan, 21, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls hosted some 600 students from 13 Minnesota and 10 Wisconsin high schools for the UW-River Falls "Border Battle" Science Olympiad Open Invitational Tournament for Division C. 

The event, organized by UWRF physics Professor Earl Blodgett, featured 39 high school teams competing in 23 National Science Olympiad events as well as six trial events from Wisconsin.  

UWRF was chosen as an ideal location for the event due to its close proximity to both western Wisconsin high schools and various Twin Cities metro schools.  The event also highlighted UWRF's strength in science programs, including the physics program, which in 2010 ranked fourth in number of graduates compared to all comprehensive institutions across the nation. 

"One of the best aspects of UWRF is our people," explains Blodgett, "and this tournament was unique in that almost every event was supervised by UWRF faculty, students and alumni.  We hope that the students and coaches enjoyed their tournament at UWRF. It was certainly fun for us to host them." 

Science Olympiad is an international non-profit organization created to improve the quality of science education by increasing student interest and providing recognition for outstanding achievement to a level of enthusiasm normally reserved for varsity sports programs. Science Olympiad tournaments are rigorous academic interscholastic invitational, regional, state, and national competitions consisting of a series of team events students prepare for during the year. Unlike many other physics, biology or chemistry competitions, Science Olympiad mixes the various science disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and technology together in one competition.  

Science Olympiad began in 1982 with initial tournaments held in Michigan and Delaware. Those events proved to be so successful that efforts were rapidly made to share the program with the nation by presenting it to the Council of State Science Supervisors at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Conference. The program was successfully embraced by NSTA and the first Science Olympiad National Tournament was hosted by Michigan State University in May 1985, with 17 states participating. In 2011, 6,000 secondary schools from 49 states participated in Science Olympiad, and an additional 10,000 elementary schools held Science Olympiad tournaments. Now in its 29th year, Science Olympiad has become the largest team science and technology competition in North America and has been recognized as a model program in the National Science Standards by the National Research Council. 

For more information on UWRF's Invitational Tournament, including final results, contact Earl Blodgett at 715-425-3196 or visit the tournament website at http://www.uwrf.edu/PHYS/olympiad. 

For more information about Science Olympiad, visit either the national website at http://soinc.org/ or the Wisconsin Science Olympiad website at http://wisconsinso.org/.     

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UW-River Falls senior physics major Tyler Capek, right, aided by English major Lindsay O'Brian, left, measures a helicopter for the helicopter flight duration event Saturday during the 2012 Border Battle Science Olympiad held at UWRF.  All high school Science Olympiad teams from Minnesota and Wisconsin were invited to attend the Open Invitational Tournament for Division C on the UWRF campus to compete in all 23 National Science Olympiad events and the six trial events from Wisconsin. Photo by Kathy M. Helgeson/UWRF Communications.

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