Loveland will be among students from all around converging on Xavier University for the iSpace Regional Science Olympiad Tournament March 7

By Chuck Gibson 

LOVELAND, OH – Xavier University is hosting one of eight regional Science Olympiad tourneys Saturday, March 7. Students from Loveland, Mason, Sycamore, and many other Greater Cincinnati school districts will compete, at the Cincinnati Regional Science Olympiad Tournament presented by iSpace. 

Regional Science Olympiad Tournament at Xavier University will include LHS Science Olympiad Team (Stock Photos)) 

You can only imagine hundreds of junior and senior high school students mixing chemicals, evaluating effectiveness of gliders, or manipulating robots through dexterity tests. Like athletic events, the Science Olympiad tests the mettle of teams as they rotate through a series of timed experiments designed to challenge their subject knowledge and problem-solving skills.

The students compete to win individual and school awards during competitions. Medals will be awarded to students for first to sixth place in each event, and the top teams from each division will receive trophies for first to sixth place.

Several teams from the regional event at Xavier University will qualify to compete in the Ohio State Science Olympiad Tournament to be held at the Ohio State University on Saturday, April 25. The top two teams at the Ohio State Tournament can reach the National Science Olympiad Tournament.

Loveland High School Science teachers Jennifer Chast and Kelly Partridge only recently resurrected a dormant Science Olympiad program at the high school. Chast is a class of 2000 graduate of LHS.

“I was a student here, went to U.C., came back and started teaching here in 03’,” said Chast. “I did Science Olympiad back then. I kind of took a break when I got married and started having my kids. Then Kelly and I brought Science Olympiad back. It’s so much fun.”

Robotics is only one of 23 different events in every Science Olympiad competition. (Photo by Chuck Gibson)

Loveland had a Science Olympiad program for a long time with a middle school team that fed into the high school team. Parents tried to keep it going, but it faded away until Partridge and Chast got it going again. This is the third year since the pair launched the return of the program during the 2017/2018 school year. Still, there is no middle school team now.

The team has about 20 Loveland students now. Only 15 can compete at any given time. A competition has 23 different science events ranging from life science, physical science, engineering and building to earth science; just good science reasoning across every field of science you can think of. Every competition has 23 events and two to three kids can participate in each event. The variety makes it attractive for LHS Junior Joanna Reese. 

“It has been an amazing experience! The amount of opportunities and different ways of thinking I have been able to explore through Science Olympiad has been extremely rewarding and fun,” exclaimed Reese. “It covers so many different areas; I’ve probably been to see every different type of academic teacher to seek help for the different areas of the program.”

Reese is certain the program offers something exciting to suit the interest and abilities of any student, even if science is not their thing. The Loveland Science Olympiad team is not funded by the schools. Costs for the program are paid 

through fundraising efforts and donations. Science Olympiad events are run by teachers, college professors, engineers, scientists and other volunteers from the community. For example, Chast and Partridge ran the forensics event for the recent Centerville Invitational competition.

“There is a qualitative analysis part where you get different powders and you have to know what test you need to figure out what powders there are,” Chast said. “You do finger print analysis and blood splatter analysis.”

Then there was a crime scene they had to figure out. The two kids have 50 minutes to physically do the lab work and figure out who did it. It was that case for all of them. Mason teachers set up the chemistry part of it. Advisors are used to run the events at the invitational level. There were 42 schools competing at the Centerville Invitational.

“It’s top notch,” said Partridge. “They run it really well.”

Students work together during Science Olympiad competition events (Stock photo) 

All different varieties of sciences are tested in one competition. Engineering and building might have students build a gravity vehicle or an airplane. They would do the building at school then take it to be tested and scored based on the criteria for the competition. Some events are very content driven like chem-lab requiring specific tests. There are others like “write it, do it.”  Something might be built from Legos and one person has to write a description of what they see. They pass the description and pieces to their partner in another room who then has to build it.

“It tests communication and technical writing,” Partridge said. “The Science Olympiad narrows it down. The kids can actually prepare because directions; the rules narrow it down to what it can be.”

Topics change every year. Anatomy has two different body systems. They rotate through from year to year. The kids can’t come in one year and keep the same materials year after year.

“It forces the kids to study and grown throughout their high school career,” said Chast.

Partridge and Chast are officially the “coaches” for the Loveland High School Science Olympiad team. Like any athletic team, they are not expert in all phases of the sciences. Neither is good at environmental they use the environmental teachers or may instruct the students to ask the physics teachers how to do something. The Science Olympiad team starts with them, but it is not just them, they utilize the whole department.

The entire Loveland High School Science department is utilized to help LHS Science Olympiad Team (Photo by Chuck Gibson)

“The coaches especially are very supportive and positive which makes the experience amazing,” said Nancy Taylor McKibben, LHS Sophomore. “Science Olympiad is a wonderful opportunity to explore science fields that you want to discover and learn more about. It’s such a special opportunity because you are surrounded by people who want to learn and they are all very supporting of each other.”

Running the Science Olympiad team is an unpaid volunteer position. It requires the teachers and the students to utilize their “free time” to prepare for events.With a roster of 20 that varies depending on availability of the students (often other school activities demand their time) decisions on the 15 who will compete in events can be challenging. The way it breaks down is the Invitational events are practice events. The Regional Tournament counts toward qualifying for State and State Tournament is how you qualify for the National Science Olympiad Tournament.

“The kids are the best,” Partridge and Chast said simultaneously. “They are the excitement that drives this.”

The kids drive the excitement during the Science Olympiad events (Stock photo)

Loveland High School Science Olympiad Team qualified and competed in the State Tournament last year. Finishing in the top six at the Xavier Regional and making it to State Tournament is the goal again this year. Both Chast and Partridge view the overall LHS science department as the strength of the program. The students are bright enough to be the best, the challenge lies in the diversity of their activities and focus of their attention.

“Participating in Science Olympiad helps you gain in-depth scientific knowledge and hands-on lab experience,” said LHS Senior Ashley George.” This will be especially useful for me next year in college.”

“If they’re having fun, we’re having fun,” said Chast. “We want them to get something out of the experience. Last or first, they’re still learning those skills that will help them later in life.”

Cincinnati Regional Science Olympiad Tournament presented by iSpace.

At Xavier University, Saturday, March 7, Events: 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Award Ceremony follows at approximately 4:00 p.m in Schmidt Fieldhouse

There is no cost to the public and Hoff Dining Commons will be open

Click here for more about the regional tournament

Click here for more on Loveland Schools