More than 600 whooping, smiling and fiercely competitive future scientists of America completed an exhaustive qualifying first round at NJIT last week in the New Jersey Science Olympiad. NJIT and the Research & Development Council of NJ co-sponsored the event. Beyond improving problem-solving, learning about technology and expanding critical thinking, competing student teams (22 out of 39) also received coveted invites to the upcoming March state competition.
Upon arrival, student teams immersed themselves in age-appropriate chemistry or physics labs, written tests on anatomy, ecology and astronomy or they observed how their model wooden structures (made prior to arrival) underwent testing for resilience. More than 30 NJIT faculty and staff partnered with an additional 35 industry volunteers to develop and run these 32 science labs, engineering exercises and/or written tests.
At day’s end, first place in the high school division went to Livingston High School, Livingston. Pioneer Academy Middle School, Clifton, took first place in the middle school category. More high school winners: Bergen County Vo-Tech (2nd), Hackensack; Union County Vo-Tech (3rd); Montville Township (4th), Montville; Millburn (5th), Millburn; Westfield (6th), Westfield; Al Ghazery (7th), Teaneck; Pioneer Academy of Science (8th), Clifton; Governor Livingston (9th), Berkeley Heights; Montclair (10th), Montclair; Summit (11th), Summit.
More middle school winners: Mendham Township (2nd), Mendham; Mt. Hebron (3rd), Montclair; Randolph Middle School (4th), Randolph; Edison Intermediate (5th), Westfield; Glenfield (6th), Montclair; Sparta (7th), Sparta; Eisenhower (8th), Wyckoff; Mt. Olive (9th), Mt. Olive; Renaissance (10th), Montclair; Rahway (11th) Rahway.
“To alleviate the nationwide shortage of engineers and scientists, it is vital to expose students early in their academic careers to these fields,” said John Carpinelli, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at NJIT and director of NJIT’s Center for Pre-College Education. Anthony Makoujy, executive director of the Council agreed. “We must give young people the chance to gain practice in scientific disciplines and to perfect skills in areas that interest them,” he added.
The New Jersey Science Olympiad has been on the leading edge of educational innovations since its inception. These innovations include high academic standards; demonstration of skills through performance testing; learning through hands-on activities; cooperative learning through events that require teamwork; improved self-concept through success in achieving high standards and making applications to the real world.
The competition is divided into two divisions, one for middle schools and the other for high schools. Each school sends a team of up to 15 students, plus two alternates. Two or three students per team compete in over 15 individual events, with each student typically competing in two or more events.
NJIT, New Jersey's science and technology university, enrolls more than 9,558 students pursuing bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 120 programs. The university consists of six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, College of Architecture and Design, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, College of Computing Sciences and Albert Dorman Honors College. U.S. News & World Report's 2011 Annual Guide to America's Best Colleges ranked NJIT in the top tier of national research universities. NJIT is internationally recognized for being at the edge in knowledge in architecture, applied mathematics, wireless communications and networking, solar physics, advanced engineered particulate materials, nanotechnology, neural engineering and e-learning. Many courses and certificate programs, as well as graduate degrees, are available online through the Office of Continuing Professional Education.