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.
One of the nation's leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT's multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. With an enrollment of more than 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, NJIT offers small-campus intimacy with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering, and cyber-security, in addition to others. NJIT ranks 5th among U.S. polytechnic universities in research expenditures, topping $110 million, and is among the top 1 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com.