April 18 will be a day filled with exploring, experimenting, and if all goes right, a healthy dose of fun on the Highline College campus. Approximately 900 middle and high school students and coaches will be on hand for the 2015 Washington Science Olympiad, competing for a chance to move on to the national tournament.

Highline will host 44 teams from schools large and small during the daylong state tournament. The teams, who are allowed 15 to 17 members, were the top performers at the five regional competitions across the state. Students will compete in hands-on science and engineering events, designed to test their knowledge and skills in a range of subjects from aerodynamics to robotics.

Successful teams will follow directions, solve problems and work collaboratively as they navigate through a handful of the 52 events. Each student will compete in an average of three events during the tournament.

Science Olympiad competitions are like academic track meets. Some of the students build devices to very detailed requirements and bring their devices to test at the competition. They may build a bridge to carry a heavy load, a rocket to launch to a great height or a robot to perform specific tasks. Meanwhile, their teammates may be taking tests in events such as genetics, physics, geology or astronomy while still others are doing a biology or chemistry lab.

The emphasis during the tournament is placed on active, hands-on group participation. By combining events from all disciplines, Science Olympiad encourages a wide cross section of students to get involved.

The two top finishers—one in the middle school category and one in the high school category—will move on to the National Science Olympiad, which will be held May 15–16, 2015, at the University of Nebraska (Lincoln). The Science Olympiad program has been in existence since the 1980s. It is considered one of the premiere competitions for young people who are passionate about science and engineering.

Questions about the event? Contact Judy Mannard, Highline Engineering and Physics faculty and director of the Washington State Science Olympiad Tournament: (206) 592-4476, jmannard@highline.edu.