This past weekend, Dartmouth hosted the Northern New England Science Olympiad Invitational Tournament for the second year. Attracting teams from all over New England, more than 250 students arrived on campus to compete against some of the brightest and most creative high school students in the region.
Eighteen high school and two middle school teams competed in the only invitational tournament for the region to launch helicopters and mousetrap vehicles, create music, build protein models and test their skills in herpetology, chemistry, forensics, and more. Every one of the 23 different events that cover all major areas of Science Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) challenged their problem solving and process skills, which makes Science Olympiad such a unique event.
The Dartmouth Tournament is an Invitational and early in the season, meaning teams of up to 15 students can compete to test their knowledge without jeopardizing their regional ranking. The New Hampshire tournament, hosted at St. Anselm College, Manchester will be in March 2019, where teams compete to go through to the national competition, hosted at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York in June 2019.
Started in 2016 by Lebanon High science teacher, John Tietjen, the 2018 Northern New England Invitational tournament brought together the large community of volunteers that has grown up alongside the development of the event. The 2017 tournament drew a lot of publicity from both within and outside Dartmouth, spurring international biotech company, Novo Nordisk – who recently set up a location in West Lebanon – to reach out with a generous financial contribution to support the efforts.
Local support has been key to the success of the tournament, both in terms of financial contributions and in-kind support (Au Bon Pain donated hot chocolate and coffee for tournament volunteers). “Without their support, and the countless hours of work put in by our volunteers, from undergrad students to faculty, graduate students to community members in the Upper Valley, this event quite simply would not happen,” said Amanda Skinner, co-director and assistant director of STEM outreach at Dartmouth. “With the generous support of companies such as Novo Nordisk and Au Bon Pain we are able to extend our reach, next year offering scholarships to teams and we hope to grow more local teams as well,” Skinner stated.
The benefits of participating in Science Olympiad teams are broad and far-reaching, not only impacting the students who develop a sense of teamwork and collaborative reward, but also the entire community. Many student competitors go on to pursue successful careers in STEM, and local communities really come together in support of their teams, and the event itself. “Science Olympiad is fun and inspiring for students. It incorporates rigorous, standards-aligned content across a broad range of STEM fields, and it promotes creative and collaborative problem solving,” says John Tietjen, who was also a coach for the Lebanon High teams.
This year’s overall winners were newcomers Philips Exeter Academy from New Hampshire, with Merrimack High School team A also from New Hampshire in second place and Plattsburgh High School Black team from New York coming in third. Trophies and medals were presented by Dean Jon Kull of the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies.