Plenty of Winners at Science Olympiad

Mar 04, 2020

Students demonstrate their love of science, technology, engineering and math at the annual competition at Cal U.

  • - Shrey Ramesh (left) and Anup Madisan, Franklin Regional High School juniors, prepare for the Wright Stuff event.

  • - Michael Sheppard, a senior at Canon-McMillan High School, at the Wright Stuff event.

  • - Annie Du, a Mount Lebanon High School sophomore, watches as her parachute falls toward the Convocation Center floor.


Though the competition was intense, all involved were enriched when Cal U hosted the Pennsylvania Science Olympiad's Southwest Regional on March 4. 

Nearly 600 middle school and high school students from 42 Pennsylvania schools in 13 different counties visited campus and used their skills in science, technology, engineering and math to compete in a variety of challenges. 

Winners qualify for the state competition on April 25 at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. The National Science Olympiad will be May 15-16 at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. For complete results visit 

“As an educator this is a wonderful day because I just love that a bunch of students came here who are very excited about science,” said Dr. Swarndeep Gill, tournament director and associate professor in Cal U's Department of Earth Sciences, during the event's opening remarks in the Convocation Center. 

“I want to also the honor of the hard work of the teachers and coaches for their efforts in strategizing and motivating while preparing their students. But at the end, students, your success is because of your hard work.” 

Dr. Brenda Fredette, dean of the Eberly College of Science and Technology, touched on Cal U’s special mission in science and technology. 

“While you’re here, find some time to explore Cal U,” she said. “Visit our campus or talk to the Cal U professors, staff and students that you meet at your challenges.” 

For a list of programs in science and technology, visit

Burke Niebauer and Angelo Persio, both of Central Cambria Middle School, began their day with a walk around campus before competing. 

Niebauer enjoyed the “Write It, Do It” event, where one student must write a description and assembly instructions for an object that a partner must build.

 “It really makes you think,” he said. “This was our first visit here. We really like it; it’s a lot of fun.” 

Students from Winchester Thurston School in Pittsburgh were making their seventh visit to Cal U, which has hosted the regional for 30 years. 

Tracy Valenty, Winchester middle school science teacher, said she is always impressed with the tests that Cal faculty write for the competitions. 

“A lot of the study events are things we directly teach in our curriculum” she said. “The events are really good for students because they get to use the foundation of what they’ve learned. 

“The most important thing is this is so academically- and team-oriented, which makes for an invaluable experience.” 

More than 20 Cal U faculty members and 15 student volunteers worked at the event, including graduate student Daniel Strehl ´18, who served as the regional site assistant director. 

“Overall this is such a great experience for me because I get to interact and help students, see them in action, and improve my project management skills,” he said. “Being involved with this allows me to see other perspectives and options that are available to me. Most important, I get to continue working with STEM.”