On Saturday, January 28, 2023, the Science Olympiad returned to UC Riverside…for the first time in over 10 years!
The Highlander Invitational was part of the national Science Olympiad competition featuring middle and high school students competing in 36 events covering all areas of science, including biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy, engineering, and more. While UC Riverside had previously hosted the Inland Empire regional tournament, this was the first invitational tournament organized by UC Riverside.
The invitational was created by Change in Scientific Importance for Youth (Delta SIFY), one of five projects overseen by Science Ambassadors. Delta SIFY leaders Sonali Bhakta, Jennalyn Resendez, and Michael Tin organized the competition.
In its inaugural year, the invitational was an online (“satellite”) competition in which students competed through their schools. More than 1,000 tests were taken by 900+ students and 50 teams from all over the country!
Science Ambassador Linlin Liu wrote challenging tests for five events, calling the invitational “the perfect opportunity for [her] to experience [the Science Olympiad] in college.” She added that she was very impressed by the capability of participants to answer questions about topics not covered in traditional coursework.
Nathaniel Co, who participated in the Science Olympiad in high school and helped organize the invitational, added that “writing the Codebusters exam was a lot of fun…and [being able to] provide feedback/questions through the chat while proctoring was incredibly rewarding.”
Joanne M. Trombley, a teacher at J.R. Fugett Middle School in West Chester, PA, stated that her students enjoyed the invitational and gained experience being able to work together in their respective events. She remarked that the online tournament helped to “bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots in society,” adding that her school district has a significant population of low-income students who do not have the resources for in-person competition travel. Kevin Postma, an AP Environmental Science teacher at Manistee High School in Manistee, MI, reported that his students had an exceptional time during the invitational.
Delta SIFY plans to build on the event’s success by hosting the Highlander Invitational on-campus next year, as well as bringing the Inland Empire Regional tournament back to UC Riverside. Delta SIFY also plans to continue its extensive STEM outreach, including Science Olympiad coaching, math tutoring, and lesson planning.
Additionally, Delta SIFY is planning an Ag-Ops field trip in the spring quarter, giving local students the opportunity to explore UC Riverside.
Learn more about the Highlander Invitational online. The 2023 Highlander Invitational Awards Ceremony is also available to watch on YouTube.