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National Science Olympiad Brings Young Scientists to Juniata

(Posted May 17, 2004)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The Juniata College campus (and the laboratories within it) is ready for an influx of science-oriented high school and junior high teams competing for a national victory in the 2004 National Science Olympiad, opening Friday, May 21 and staging the competition Saturday, May 22 on the Juniata campus.

Teams from near (First place Pennsylvania competitors are Harriton High School, in the Philadelphia area, and Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh) and far are converging on Juniata College, the smallest college ever to hold the event. (Teams are coming from St. Louis, Mo.; Wichita, Kan.; Bismarck, N.D.; Tucson, Ariz.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Wasilla, Alaska; Anaheim California; and many other teams from cities representing close to 50 states.)

"The economic impact on Huntingdon and surrounding communities will be significant," says Chad Herzog, director of alumni relations and supervising coordinator for the event. "We expect that the event will bring more than $2.5 million into the local economy, but the true advantage of the event is that science-minded students from around the nation will get a chance to see Juniata's excellent science facilities."

More than 100 teams from more than 40 separate state competitions will arrive in Huntingdon. Each state will field teams of middle school- and high school-aged students to compete for two days in a variety of scientific events that are based on physics, chemistry, geology and a host of other science fields. Competitors are separated into two divisions: Division B (grades 6-9) and Division C (grades 9-12).

Team members will stay on campus in student residence halls, while parents and other visitors will find lodging in area hotels.

William Phillips, 1997 Nobel laureate in physics and a 1970 graduate of Juniata, will give the opening address at Knox Stadium to the participants at opening ceremonies Friday, May 21 at 5 p.m., followed by a parade of states by all participating teams.

The competition will start Saturday, May 22 at 8 a.m. at various locations around campus. The events, which end at 4 p.m., are based on the national and state scientific education standards.

The opening ceremony and closing award presentations will be held in Knox Stadium, Juniata's athletic field, named for Juniata alumnus Chuck Knox, former NFL head coach for the Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks.
The Juniata campus also will feature an "Atomic Village" where student teams can relax and regroup between events.

Science Olympiad competitions ask students to apply the principles of biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences, problem-solving and technology to events that ask competitors to do everything from constructing a bridge to reconstructing a crime scene.

Juniata, a liberal arts college with an enrollment of 1,350, has hosted the state final competition for the past 13 years. The events will be held at several sites on the Juniata campus as well as sites off-campus in Huntingdon.

Juniata College has a long-standing and well-earned reputation for excellence in science. The college was rated 4th in the nation for the high number of science degrees granted as a percentage of the total degrees earned by Juniata undergraduates, according to Academic Excellence, a study of the role of research in the natural sciences at undergraduate institutions.

In addition, the college opened its state-of-the-art undergraduate science building, the $20 million William J. von Liebig Center for Science, in October 2002. The building houses more than seven spacious biology, biochemistry and chemistry laboratories outfitted with ample research equipment. The facility makes Juniata one of the best-equipped colleges for undergraduate research in the nation. The college also has been operating a much-praised science outreach program, Science in Motion, for more than 20 years. The science outreach model that Juniata faculty created in the early 1980s has been adapted by several other states, including Alabama and Delaware.

The Science Olympiad brings out the talents, resourcefulness and skills of the top young scientific minds in the state as teams create different science projects for competition in 23 events. The events, which can involve individuals or teams, allow students to think creatively while building an elaborate project.

For information, see the tournament Web site at http://projects.juniata.edu/scioly/national.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.