Allendale High School, Middle School advance to state following GV-hosted Science Olympiad

GVL/Katherine Vasile, 3/23/19, Kelly Family Sports Center Louis Track And Field, Michigan Science Olympiad

GVL/Katherine Vasile, 3/23/19, Kelly Family Sports Center Louis Track And Field, Michigan Science Olympiad

Allison Rafferty

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Grand Valley State University’s Allendale Campus hosted the 35th annual Region 12 Michigan Science Olympiad tournament on Saturday, March 23, where hundreds of middle and high school students were able to compete in STEM activities. 

This year’s tournament involved more than 1,000 students from 40 middle schools and 28 high schools across Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties. The tournament, presented by GVSU’s Regional Math and Science Center allowed these students to show their knowledge and skills in biology, chemistry, physics, earth science and technology. 

The 35th annual Science Olympiad spanned 50 events, including new ones such as Heredity, Sounds of Music and Boomilever. 

While not all of the events were available for public viewing, Director of GVSU’s Regional Math and Science Center Kristofer Pachla explained that events like Battery Buggy, Boomilever, Roller Coaster and Elastic Launched Glider would all be open to the public.

For Allendale Middle School students Grace Schulten and Mae Wittlieff, this was their second year competing in Science Olympiad and they plan on doing it again in the future. 

“Today, I have done Crime Busters so far, and then I also have Density Lab left to do as well as Anatomy and Physiology,” Schulten said.

Whitlieff participated in Experimental Design, Crime Busters and Solar Systems. 

Both students explained that they would love to do more events in the future. 

Allendale Middle School coach David Erdmans has been coaching for 22 years and has high expectations for his team. 

“We’ve got a great group of kids,” Erdmans said. “They work their tails off. I’m hoping to be top five. Top ten go to state, but the last three years we were second, so I’m hoping to be second again.”

Erdmans loves coaching because he’s able to provide “science geek” kids with an avenue to explore and develop skills outside of the classroom. 

Allendale High School also participated in Science Olympiad, as it was coach Donna Newman’s ninth year at the helm. 

“(I coach for) the kids,” Newman said. “It’s a great group of kids. They’re excited about learning. They’re excited about being a team. They’re learning so many cool things and I learn right along with them when I’m coaching, so it’s a lot of fun.”

Not unlike Erdmans, Newman had high hopes for Allendale High School’s placement during the award ceremony. 

“Well, we’re really hoping to go to state, so hopefully (we place) in the top six,” Newman said. 

Both schools accomplished their goals and will be advancing to state as Allendale Middle School placed second and Allendale High School placed fifth. 

Pachla said that hosting this event is important to GVSU because it inspires kids and harbors a sense of community.

“GVSU and the Regional Math and Science Center support learning in math and science across the region,” Pachla said.

“By supporting our community as they engage with these events, we can make sure that we are sparking interest in math and science, form strong partnerships with schools and give back to the community that we are a part of.”