February 15, 2023
Pearl River Community College welcomed middle and high school students along with their teachers and parents to enjoy a day of science competition and fun at the annual regional Science Olympiad. PRCC has been hosting the Gulf South Regional Science Olympiad since 2015.
“We’ve been hosting a Regional Olympiad since 2015, when the State Science Olympiad became too big to host at one venue,” said PRCC Instructor of Biology and Gulf South Regional Director Robert Maynard. “We’re now the largest regional Olympiad in Mississippi, and 2023 has been our largest tournament, with 17 teams representing schools from the Coast to the greater Jackson area.
“While we’re incredibly proud of our male and female athletes on the State and National Level, we’re equally proud that we can showcase Pearl River academically to future Wildcats.”
Nine schools brought a total of 17 teams for the event. Middle school teams came from Brandon Middle School, Hattiesburg STEAM Academy, Pearl River County Middle School in Carriere, Picayune Junior High, Oak Grove Middle School in Hattiesburg, Parklane Academy in McComb and St. Patrick Catholic High School in Biloxi. High school teams came from Germantown High School in Madison, Madison Central High School, Parklane Academy in McComb, Pearl River Central High School in Carriere, Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg and St. Patrick Catholic High School in Biloxi.
Each team could consist of up to 15 participants who compete in a variety of events in multiple science disciplines: Life, personal, and social sciences; Earth and space science; Physical Science and Chemistry; Technology and Engineering; and Inquire and Nature of Science. The focus of the events changes each year so each annual competition is unique.
Some events require core knowledge that is judged through written tests, while others require participants to perform tasks on-site. This year’s non-spectator events for both levels included Anatomy, Disease Detectives, Dynamic Planet, Forestry, Green Generations, Ornithology, and Write It/Do It. Middle school students could compete in Bio Process Lab, Crime Busters, Fast Facts, and Solar System. High school students had additional options of Astronomy, Cell Biology, Chem Lab, Fermi Question, and Forensics.
Spectator events incorporated the need for students to build a device ahead of time and bring it on-site for testing. The four event areas included bridge building, flight, non-motorized vehicles, and trajectory with catapults.
After a long day of events, attendees gathered inside the Ethel Holden Brownstone Center for the Arts for the awards ceremony. The top three students or partner teams for each event were announced with medals distributed. The ceremony concluded with the announcement of the overall winning teams who received trophies.
For B Division (middle school), third place went to team B-4 from Parklane Academy, second place went to team B-68 from Pearl River County Middle School, and first place went to team B-7 from St. Patrick.
“We’re very excited to have won,” said St. Patrick middle school student Gigi Persing. “We were nervous but knew we have a really strong team. We’re really excited for the state competition and to see what the future brings.”
For C Division (high school), third place went to team C-3 from Parklane Academy, second place went to team C-5 from Germantown High School, and first place went to team C-1 from Madison Central High School.
“I am overjoyed and proud because we’ve improved so much from last year,” said Madison Central High School senior and Team Captain Zoe Zhang.
The top teams from the regional events qualify to compete at the State Tournament at the University of Southern Mississippi in March. The winners at State are invited to attend the National Science Olympiad.
ABOUT SCIENCE OLYMPIAD
Science Olympiad tournaments have a variety of events that test knowledge of science facts, concepts, processes, skills, and science applications. The main goal of the event is to elevate science education and learning to a level of enthusiasm and support that is normally reserved only for varsity sports programs.
In Mississippi, the regional tournaments allow as many teams from any individual school as the coach wishes to bring. At the state tournament only one team per school may advance. This can be an exact duplicate of a regional team, or a mix/match of the best competitors from the school’s regional teams.
The Mississippi Science Olympiad is an official chapter of Science Olympiad, Inc.
For the latest news on Pearl River Community College, visit PRCC.edu and follow us on Twitter (@PRCC_Wildcats), Instagram (PRCCWILDCATS), and Facebook (@PRCCMKTG).
Article and photography by Laura O’Neill.