Hundreds of local middle school and high school students came to the University of California, Riverside campus on March 3 to take part in the Inland Empire Regional Science Olympiad. The regional competition had teams of enthusiastic students compete in various categories that tested their knowledge in science facts, applications and concepts.

The projects, which included groundwater system models, small helicopters that could fly and mousetrap vehicles, covered a variety of disciplines in science and engineering. They took place in six buildings on campus, with some projects being held outdoors. Family members and friends cheered on the teams.

The UC Riverside Graduate Division hosted the event. Joseph Childers, dean of the division, worked with the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) at UCR to bring the popular hands-on competition to campus.

“We are very pleased with the tremendously positive response the Regional Science Olympiad students had to holding their competition at UCR,” Childers said. “The extra effort on the part of the Bourns College of Engineering and the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences made the day a great experience for all. The Regional Science Olympiad is a wonderful way for our campus to connect to high school and junior high science and math students from around the area, and to help more of our community to understand how committed the campus and its faculty are to student success at every level.”

The student projects were judged by UCR faculty and local science teachers, with medals and trophies presented to the winning teams at the end of the day. Great Oak of Temecula won the high school competition, followed by Etiwanda in Rancho Cucamonga, Montclair, Temecula Valley, and Rancho Cucamonga high schools. Matthew Gage Middle School in Riverside won the middle school competition, followed by Van Avery in Temecula, Margarita in Temecula and Miller in Riverside.

“More than anything, the event was about the high school and middle school students, parents, coaches, judges, and teachers,” said Prashanthi Vandrangi, a founding member of the SACNAS chapter and an organizer of the event. “It was amazing to see 1,400 smiles and cheerful faces. Many high school students saw UCR as their next destination.”

This year was the first time the Inland Empire Regional Science Olympiad was held at UCR.