Hawaii Science Olympiad

The Hawai‘i Science Olympiad is one of those programs that involves a lot of students, teachers and supporters, fosters a great learning environment and promotes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. But inspite of this the program gets very little media attention. I'd equate this program to the Science Fair or Robotics competitions but relatively new to the Hawaii scene. The Science Olympiad started in 2005 as compared to the Science Fair which is going on its 54th year. Nevertheless, the Science Olympiad has as much energy and conviction as any program that is determined to make a difference in Hawaii's students. This year's Hawaii State final took place on March 5th on the campus of Leeward Community College. As its name implies, the Science Olympiad is an olympics-styled competition but rather than physical activities student teams compete in topics like astronomy, optics, geology, biology, etc. Although most of the competitions are closed to public viewing (to minimize participant distraction) there are several like the bottle rocket launch where the public is welcomed. In this exercise, plastic soda bottles are used to design a rocket that gets pumped with 75 lbs of air pressure and launched into the air. The competitive measure was how long the rocket stayed in the air. Students could use basic materials to design fins and a cone as well as the right water to air mixture for propellent. Two other publicly viewable competitions included the mousetrap vehicle and tower building, each intense in its own way. This year's competition drew 48 teams, up from 23 last year. Teams came from all over the state, both public and private schools. Congratulations go out to Iolani School and Maui Preparatory Academy who placed first in the the high school and middle school divisions, respectively.  Both teams will represent Hawai‘i at the National Science Olympiad Tournament at the University of Wisconsin in May. Franklin Allaire is the tireless director of this program and along with him is an army of coaches, judges, mentors and volunteers that make this program the success that it is. This group of people deserve a big round of thanks for encouraging a new generation of kids to explore and discover the limitless world of science and technology.