Occidental College Hosts Regional K-12 Science Olympiad

On Saturday, February 26, Occidental College will host the 25th annual Los Angeles Regional Science Olympiad, a K-12 science and engineering skills tournament.


Students from 112 private and public elementary, middle, and high schools will compete in rigorous and fun challenges that span astronomy, chemistry, and experimental design, among other subjects.

The Science Olympiad, akin to an academic track meet, consists of 60 events in three divisions: elementary, middle, and high school. About 2,000 students grouped into 15-person teams will compete in events such as designing a mousetrap, catapult or protein-cell model; solving a crime using forensic tools; and analyzing satellite images created by remote-sensing instruments. Some challenges also entail a written test.

"The Science Olympiad is authentic to the scientific endeavor," said Gary Widdison, co-director of the Los Angeles regional tournament and director of the Los Angeles County Outdoor Science Schools. "We cannot have a robust science investigation unless we teach kids that science is more than just a body of knowledge. It's about using what we learn to solve problems."

The stakes are high: The three winning teams from each division go on to the state tournament on April 9 at Anaheim's Canyon High School. Winners of the state competition then battle other top teams at the 27th annual national Science Olympiad at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, from May 18 to 21. (Below is a list of schools by region.)

Nearly 6,000 teams from 49 states compete annually in hopes of reaching the national level. Besides a trophy and bragging rights, winners also receive grants up to $2,000 for their school.

"Occidental College is proud to host this year's Science Olympiad," said Phoebe Dea, Occidental's Fletcher Jones Professor of Chemistry and one of the tournament organizers. "The College is a great place to learn science. Oxy students are highly successful in integrating research and education, as reflected in the number of student researchers, degrees awarded, and graduates moving on to advanced studies in the science disciplines."

Seven to eight schools in each division from the regional tournament usually advance to the state competition, and several have reached the national level. Rosemead's Muscatel Middle School, for example, was the state Science Olympiad middle school champion in 2009 and 2010, and placed 6th in the national competition in 2009. Muscatel Middle was also the state runner-up in 2008.

At the high school level, North Hollywood High School has a good shot at advancing to the national level. The school placed second at the state competition the past four years running, from 2007 through 2010. North Hollywood's main state rival is Fullerton's Troy High School, which competes in the Orange County Regional Science Olympiad. In addition to placing first at the state competition since 1999, Troy placed first at the national Science Olympiad in 2007 and 2008, and third in 2009.

Students have been preparing for the regional Science Olympiad for months. About 70 science and engineering professors and students from Occidental and Caltech will judge the competition.

"The Science Olympiad is very hectic, fun, and festive," Widdison said. "And having it at Oxy is wonderful because of the College's dignified and venerable campus--that will be very motivating for students."

Los Angeles Regional Science Olympiad 2011
Participating Schools

El Rodeo Elementary School, Beverly Hills
Hawthorne Elementary School, Beverly Hills
Horace Mann School, Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills High School, Beverly Hills
Bravo Medical Magnet High School, Los Angeles
Brentwood High School, Los Angeles
Roybal Learning Center, Los Angeles
North Hollywood High School, North Hollywood

Northeast Los Angeles
Buchanan Street Elementary School, Los Angeles
Eagle Rock Elementary School, Los Angeles

San Fernando Valley
Viewpoint School, Calabasas
El Oro Way Elementary School, Granada Hills
Millikan Middle School, Sherman Oaks

San Gabriel Valley
Garfield Elementary School, Alhambra
Ramona Convent Secondary School, Alhambra
Alhambra High School, Alhambra
Mark Keppel High Schoo,l Alhambra
San Gabriel High School, Alhambra
Dana Middle School, Arcadia
Arcadia High School, Arcadia
Vineland Elementary School, Baldwin Park
Workman High School, City of Industry
Gidley Elementary School, El Monte
Arroyo High School, El Monte
St. Lucy's Priory, Glendora
Baldwin Elementary School, La Puente
Lassalette School, La Puente
Nelson Elementary School, La Puente
Sierra Vista Middle School, La Puente
Valinda School of Academics , La Puente
Workman Elementary School, La Puente
Monrovia Elementary School, Monrovia
Santa Fe Middle School, Monrovia
Hillcrest Elementary School, Monterey Park
Westridge School, Pasadena
Garvey Middle School, Rosemead
Muscatel Middle School, Rosemead
Rosemead High School Rosemead
Rowland High School, Rowland Heights
Gladstone Elementary School, San Dimas
San Dimas High School, San Dimas
Washington Elementary School, San Gabriel
San Marino High School, San Marino
Shively Elementary School, South El Monte
South Pasadena Middle School, South Pasadena
South Pasadena High School, South Pasadena
Temple City High School, Temple City
Ybarra Elementary School, Walnut
Walnut High School, Walnut
St. Christopher's School, West Covina

Beach Cities/South Bay
Hermosa Valley School, Hermosa Beach
Manhattan Beach Middle School, Manhattan Beach
Cornerstone Elementary School, Palos Verdes
Palos Verdes High School, Palos Verdes Estates
Birney Elementary School, Redondo Beach
Redondo Union High School, Redondo Beach
Park Western Place Elementary School, San Pedro

South Los Angeles
Magnolia Science Academy, Carson
Park Avenue Elementary School, Cudahy
Carmenita Middle School, Cerritos
Valley Christian School, Cerritos
Fedde Middle School, Hawaiian Gardens
Walnut Park Elementary School, Huntington Park
Oak Street Elementary School, Inglewood
Will Rogers Middle School, Lawndale
Gompers Middle School, Los Angeles
Luther Burbank Middle School, Los Angeles
Synergy Kinetic Academy, Los Angeles
Lakeside Middle School, Norwalk
South Torrance High School, Torrance

Whittier area
Bixby Elementary School, Hacienda Heights
Cedarlane School, Hacienda Heights
Grazide Elementary School, Hacienda Heights
Los Altos Elementary School, Hacienda Heights
Los Molinos Elementary School, Hacienda Heights
Los Robles Academy, Hacienda Heights
Mesa Robles School, Hacienda Heights
Newton Middle School, Hacienda Heights
Orange Grove Middle School, Hacienda Heights
Wedgeworth Elementary School, Hacienda Heights
Los Altos High School, Hacienda Heights
Wilson High School, Hacienda Heights
Macy Elementary School, La Habra
Rio Vista Elementary School, Pico Rivera
Rancho Santa Gertrudes Elementary School, Santa Fe Springs
Ada S. Nelson Elementary School, Whittier
Aeolian Elementary School, Whittier
Ocean View Elementary School, Whittier

Eastern Los Angeles County
Claremont High School, Claremont
Diamond Bar High School, Diamond Bar

Meadowlark Elementary School, Acton
High Desert Middle School, Acton
Sundown Elementary School, Lancaster
Los Amigos Elementary School, Palmdale
Rancho Vista Elementary School, Palmdale
Tumbleweed Elementary School, Palmdale

Santa Clarita
Valencia High School, Santa Clarita
Rancho Pico Jr. High School, Stevenson Ranch
West Ranch High School, Stevenson Ranch
Legacy Christian School, Valencia
Rio Norte Jr. High School, Valencia

Simi Valley
Royal High School, Simi Valley
Walnut High School, Walnut Valley
South Pointe Middle School, Walnut Valley
Suzanne Middle School, Walnut Valley

Ventura County
Oak Park High School, Oak Park
Westlake High School, Westlake Village