15:00 PM

Valley students showcase skills at 14th annual Science Olympiad


Students compete in the Boomilever event at the 14th RGV Regional Science Olympiad

Some of the brightest and most promising scientific minds converged on South Texas College’s Pecan Campus for the 14th Annual Regional Science Olympiad on Saturday, Feb. 22.The RGV Regional is a part of the Science Olympiad competition that sends some of the top teams to the next level of competition, the State Science Olympiad in College Station and continues to the national stage.

The event, organized by the Division of Math and Science at STC, consisted of interscholastic competitions for students in grades 6-12 centered around Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) events.

Chemistry instructor Dr. Ludivina Avila, Regional Coordinator, manages the RGV portion of the Olympiad and says students being able to build their own projects to use adds a unique factor to the competition.

“The nice thing about the Science Olympiad, unlike the UIL, these are all hands-on events,” Dr. Avila said. “They build projects at home and they go and test them here.”

Events ranged from the exams on Anatomy & Physiology and Fossils to hands-on experiments like the Ping Pong Parachute, Wright Stuff where students build and fly homemade aircraft, the Boomilever which tested team’s ability to build a structurally efficient but strong machine to carry weight.

While young scientists walked around campus with machines or projects in hand waiting for their next event, Dr. Avila explained that this opportunity didn’t always exist for many Valley students and schools.

“Before we started hosting this regional down here in the Valley, it was very difficult for school districts to do this,” Dr. Avila said.

“The nice thing about the Science Olympiad, unlike the UIL, these are all hands-on events. They build projects at home and they go and test them here.”
Dr. Ludivina Avila, Director for Regional Science Olympiad at South Texas College

The campus was bustling with students and coaches from middle schools and high schools around the Valley and from as far as Alamo Heights ISD.

McAllen ISD’s Lamar Academy took first place in the high school division and McAllen ISD’s Fossum Middle School earned second in the middle school division.

“We’re a community college and we want to do these things for our community,” Dr. Avila said. “Being able to host for teams has been a great deal for them, they don’t have to travel very far.”

Physics professor Dr. Pramod Lamichhame proctored a room full of students taking a two-person test on machines before presenting their creations to the group.

“The whole idea is to generate interest in the STEM field,” Dr. Lamichhame said. “We want the best homegrown scientists in the nation. These kinds of activities will help students understand and generate more interest and encourage them to come into the STEM field.”He was excited to see so many eager students working and competition in the sciences and credited the college with always putting local educational needs at the forefront.“STC is always committed to the community, to help the community with education,” Dr. Lamichhame said. “We are very proud to host these kinds of activities. The STEM field is considered very difficult in the beginning. But when students do these kinds of activities they help themselves and get experience with their friends and peers. They realize that science and the STEM field is interesting and not so much difficult.”

The state tournament for the Science Olympiad takes place April 24-25 in College Station at Texas A&M University.

This year, teams will have a chance to advance to North Carolina State University which will host the 2020 National Science Olympiad from May 15 to May 16.

For more information about the Science Olympiad, including a list of advancing teams, contact regional director Dr. Avila at (956) 872-3511 or through e-mail at aludy@southtexascollege.edu