Hillsdale College is holding Michigan’s Region Nine Science Olympiad for 16 middle school and nine high school teams on Saturday. The top three teams from each age group will earn a slot to compete at the state competition at Michigan State University on April 29.
More than 300 competitors are expected to attend the Region Nine Science Olympiad, with an additional 200 coaches, teachers, and parents also in attendance. Associate Professor of Chemistry Christopher Hamilton is directing the event, while volunteers from the college will assist with set-up, clean-up, and running the competitions and the awards ceremony.
“Hillsdale students volunteer a lot and do all sorts of things, and this is a way, especially for science majors, to give back but in a way that’s related to science, which is really cool,” Hamilton said.
Vice President of Hillsdale’s chapter of the American Chemical Society senior Jonathan Wolff is responsible for recruiting and managing the 105 student and 25 faculty volunteers that will help run the science olympiad.
“Science Olympiad literally is a really fun way for the kids to get interested in science, to start moving science from just a course that you take in school to something with real-life applicability,” Wolff said.
Volunteers are expected to work a minimum of three hours, Hamilton said. Some, however, will put in many more. Event coordinators are in charge of buying products, setting up stations, running events, and grading tests. By the end of the day, many volunteers will have worked for six hours or more.
Wolff was a volunteer worker at the Science Olympiad last year.
“I thought it was fun being on the other side of it, watching all the creative ways students approach these tasks,” Wolff said.
Hamilton said he wants to keep the Science Olympiad at Hillsdale in the future, because the community service and publicity gives the college a chance to showcase its science programs.
“People might only have an impression of Hillsdale as this school they hear about from conservative talk radio or this little school that they really don’t know anything about,” Hamilton said. “Most parents and most teachers get exposed to Hillsdale and see that we’re not just one thing…It does change people’s views of Hillsdale, I think, in a positive way.”