Science and Engineering Powerhouse University of Illinois Takes on Long Term Partnership with Scienc
Much of our future lies in science. Accordingly, as a fan of the University of Illinois (see below) and science, it was great to see the following news regarding the U of I taking on another role in pushing science forward. How ? By entering into a long-term partnership with the Science Olympiad. What is the that? It’s a national program that encourages and provides real opportunities and scholarships for kids interested in science. The news is set out below, and is posted here:
Chicago-Based Science Education Non-Profit is Largest Team Science Competition in the United States; University of Illinois Ranked Top Ten in Science and Engineering
CHICAGO, November 18, 2010 — University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), one of
the leading science and engineering institutions in the United States and nationally-recognized
Science Olympiad have announced a long-term partnership. Science Olympiad is a 27-year-old
national science competition that focuses on student teams working together on science,
technology, engineering and math (STEM) challenges. Aligned to the National Science Education
Standards developed by the National Research Council, Science Olympiad’s broad scope of
events touch every letter in STEM.
“We are honored to partner with the University of Illinois,” said Dr. Gerard Putz, Science
Olympiad co-founder and president. “Its commitment to the on-campus I-STEM Education
Initiative mirrors Science Olympiad’s mission to connect K-12 STEM learning, higher education
and workforce development. This partnership secures a rock-solid foundation for Science
Olympiad moving forward.”
The merger will employ a three-year transition period during which I-STEM and UIUC will work
closely with Science Olympiad to increase staffing and programs. After the 2013 National
Tournament, Science Olympiad’s national operations will be housed on the UIUC campus, and in
2014, the University of Illinois plans to host the 30th Anniversary of the Science Olympiad
National Tournament. In 2010, UIUC offered 62 gold medal winners in the high school division
of the Science Olympiad National Tournament a four-year, full-ride tuition waiver, valued at
more than $100,000 each.
A key highlight of the merger is the formation of the Science Olympiad Endowment at the
University of Illinois Foundation, which will be devoted to serving the philanthropic, service-
oriented goals of Science Olympiad. Major priorities include:
•Awarding grants to communities for Urban and Rural Schools Initiatives
•Awarding grants and professional development to state Science Olympiad organizations
•Providing scholarships or fellowships to Science Olympiad Alumni Association members
Click here to go the ScienceOlympiad website; a basic summary is set out below.
WHAT IS SCIENCE OLYMPIAD?
Science Olympiad is an international non-profit organization devoted to improving the quality of science education, increasing student interest in science and providing recognition for outstanding achievement in science education by both students and teachers. These goals are accomplished through classroom activities, research, training workshops and the encouragement of intramural, district, regional, state and national tournaments. Science Olympiad tournaments are rigorous academic interscholastic competitions that consist of a series of team events, which students prepare for during the year. These challenging and motivational events are well balanced between the various science disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and technology. There is also a balance between events requiring knowledge of science concepts, process skills and science applications. In addition, during the day there are open house activities that consist of science and mathematics demonstrations, activities and career counseling sessions conducted by professors and scientists at the host institution occurring concurrently with the events.
Many states and regions have organized physics, biology or chemistry competitions, but few have combined all disciplines in one large Science Olympiad. The excitement of many students from all science areas competing and cheering one another on to greater learning caused one school district to coin the phrase “intellete”. When they searched for a place to house their newly won Science Olympiad State Championship trophy, the only location available was outside the principal’s office in the “athlete” showcase, so they convinced the school board to build an “intellete” showcase. One of the goals of the Science Olympiad is to elevate science education and learning to a level of enthusiasm and support that is normally reserved only for varsity sports programs.
Please forgive today’s boosterism for the University of Illinois and science. The roots for it lie in my University of Illinois heritage and great pride in the school. I grew up in Champaign-Urbana, hometown of the U of I’s main campus, and lived on campus while obtaining my undergrad degree in business in 1980. ( My high school science teacher managed to make science boring for me, hence the business degree.) The roots also run deeper. Dad was engineering professor at the U of I, and Mom was a senior administrative assistant to various senior administrators. My sister is a molecular biologist who earned her bio degree from the U of I and then moved west to work with the great researchers at Salk Labs. My brother is a U of I trained engineer/businessperson with a major international manufacturing business.