February 1, 2024

Purdue Science Olympiad welcoming high school students for a day of STEM competitions

Throughout the course of the day-long event, teams of 15 students will compete in 23 diverse events that cover a wide range of scientific disciplines, from power projects to circuit labs.
Aiden Sexton, Aiyan Alam, and Pravin Jayatissa
From left: Aiden Sexton, Aiyan Alam, and Pravin Jayatissa are among the Purdue ECE students helping to organize Science Olympiad.

Hundreds of high school students will descend upon the Purdue campus this weekend for Science Olympiad, a competition consisting of standards-based challenges in science and engineering. The invitational is being organized and run by the Purdue Science Olympiad student organization.

Throughout the course of the day-long event, teams of 15 students will compete in 23 diverse events that cover a wide range of scientific disciplines, from power projects to circuit labs. Knowledge-based events generally have two to three participants taking a test and/or mathematically analyzing data. Hands-on events generally consist of two participants performing experiments or interacting with physical objects to achieve a certain goal. Engineering-based events have a team of two participants. They are to construct a device following a specific event's parameters and test the device against others. Each year, a portion of the events are rotated to reflect the ever-changing nature of genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, electrical engineering, and technology. Emphasis is placed on active, hands-on group participation.

Aiden Sexton, a freshman studying Computer Engineering, says competing in the Science Olympiad in high school not only sparked his passion for science and engineering but also provided him with a community of friends. He says being a member of the student organization at Purdue has served the same purpose.

“It's been really nice to get to work with like-minded people who have experience with Science Olympiad and also just kind of appreciate science and engineering,” said Sexton.

Aiyan Alam, a sophomore in Computer Engineering, is an Event Supervisor. He has been competing in Science Olympiad since 6th grade and hopes the experience is as valuable to the students competing in the invitational as it was to him.

“As I competed in more events, I got to love science and engineering,” says Alam. “It also really helped me just be engaged outside of my classroom, which I'm really hoping that the kids get out of this entire thing.”

Science Olympiad has multiple levels of competition: invitational, regional, state, and national. Invitational tournaments, like the one at Purdue, are unofficial tournaments and serve as practice for regional and state competitions. Teams that excel at regional competitions advance to the state level; the top one or two teams from each state then advance to the national level. 

Pravin Jayatissa, a junior in Electrical Engineering, is the treasurer for the Science Olympiad. He says beyond nurturing a love and knowledge of science and engineering, the student organizers gain other skills from organizing the event.

“Having the responsibility of things such as proctoring events, managing volunteers, and reserving spaces on campus for the events has taught me a lot,” says Jayatissa. Personally, I’ve also learned a lot by being treasurer, things like managing budgets and learning how to allocate resources.”

He says part of the Science Olympiad experience for the high school students is touring Purdue, getting a feel for what the campus is like, and as a result, hopefully considering Purdue for their undergraduate studies

The event gets underway tomorrow morning (2/3) at 8am at various locations around campus.