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Source: Don Von Bergen, 785-826-2696, dvb@k-state.edu
Prepared by: Natalie Blair, 785-826-2642, nblair@k-state.edu

Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011

K-STATE SALINA HOST OF REGIONAL SCIENCE COMPETITION

SALINA -- Teams from more than 25 schools will participate in a regional Kansas Science Olympiad hosted by Kansas State University at Salina, Wednesday, Jan. 12.

The Kansas Science Olympiad is a statewide competition that challenges students to demonstrate their knowledge, ability and skills in all areas of science, with competitions in biology, physics, chemistry, earth science, engineering and inquiry. Competitions include written tests and lab experiments to the construction of a structure or a robot.

The Salina regional competition will feature more than 400 students and 50 coaches. It consists of Division B for grades 6-9, and Division C for grades 9-12. Team members usually compete in pairs and enter about four events each. Although individual victories are essential, teamwork plays a large part in the competition.

"This is truly a team sport," said Don Von Bergen, head of the department of arts, science and business at K-State Salina. "Advancement to the next level of competition rests on the team's ability to excel in many events, not just a few. This takes a team effort as one student can only compete in a maximum of four of the 23 events."

Along with promoting teamwork, the goals of Kansas Science Olympiad are to increase the interest and proficiency of Kansas students in the study of science, to recognize outstanding student and teacher achievements in science, and to improve the quality of science education in the state.

"The Science Olympiad increases the desire and courage for students to pursue science and technology as majors in schools and eventually as a career path," Von Bergen said. "It makes science fun and competitive, while giving the students an opportunity to be formally recognized and rewarded for their academic abilities and efforts on a regional, state and, for some, a national level."

Von Bergen has been a part of the Kansas Science Olympiad for a decade, first as a coach for Salina South High School and now as director of the Salina regional event.

This is the 27th year of Science Olympiad. K-State Salina has been host to a regional competition for 18 years.

Such an event doesn't happen without a little help, and Von Bergen said many volunteers make the annual event possible.

"We always have several students and faculty members on hand to assist," Von Bergen said. "Also vital to the event's success are the volunteers from the Rolling Hills Zoo, The Land Institute, Geoprobe Systems, Kansas Wesleyan University, private citizens and members of K-State's Manhattan campus."

In addition to K-State at Salina, other regional Olympiads will be in Garden City, Hays, Kansas City, Kan., and Wichita.