Some of Albuquerque’s brightest middle and high school students spent recently competed in the annual Central New Mexico Science Olympiad, hosted by the University of New Mexico's STEM-H Center for Outreach, Research and Education.

Science Olympiad operates like a track meet. Students divide into teams and each teammate participates in a variety of interactive, hands-on events in order to earn points for their team as well as compete for individual event medals. Fifteen high school teams and 12 middle school teams registered to be exposed to numerous academic subjects, including math, chemistry, anatomy, science, physics, engineering, robotics, meteorology, earth science, forensics, food science, hydrology, fossils and genetics.

By blending these disciplines with collaborative events, the competition brings students, teachers and business leaders together toward a shared goal: getting students interested in STEM-H (science, technology, engineering, math and health sciences) subjects. For example, a bridge building exercise requires students to build, the lightest bridge structure possible that can hold the most weight before it collapses, based on a set of specifications from the National Science Olympiad Event Rules.

“Science Olympiad is the best place to get hands-on experience in STEM-H subjects. The competitive environment really gets students interested in the subjects and not only learning, but having a blast while doing it," says Erin Garcia, STEM-H Center program specialist who managed the program.

The day’s top seven high school and top five middle school teams will compete in New Mexico’s State Science Olympiad competition slated for Feb. 20 at New Mexico Tech in Socorro. From there, one middle school team and one high school team from New Mexico will move onto the National Science Olympiad competition in May.

TOP 7 FINSHERS

Middle School (B) Division

1st place – Albuquerque Area Homeschoolers

2nd place – Wilson Middle School B1

3rd place – Cottonwood Classical Prep School

4th place – Bosque School

5th place – Albuquerque School of Excellence

6th place – Wilson Middle School B2

7th place – Albuquerque Institute of Math & Science

High School (C) Division

1st place – Albuquerque Academy C1

2nd place – Albuquerque Area Homeschoolers

3rd place – Albuquerque Academy C2

4th place – La Cueva High School C1

5th place – Cottonwood Classical Prep School

6th place – V. Sue Cleveland High School

7th place – Bosque School C1

Providing support this year are the flagship sponsor, Sandia National Laboratories, along with the UNM Office of Research, the UNM Health Sciences Center Office for Diversity, the UNM School of Engineering and PNM Resources. There are Science Olympiad competitions in all 50 states and in Canada. In New Mexico, Science Olympiad teams involve more than 3,000 students.