Directional signs. Check.
Pizzas, sodas, nachos. Check. Check. Check.
Wright State University officials are feverishly going down their checklist this week as they prepare to host an estimated 1,500 students and coaches who will descend on the campus Feb. 26 for the Science Olympiad Invitational.
The invitational, which will feature science-related competitions in events ranging from Bottle Rockets to Battery Buggies, is a prelude to the National Science Olympiad Tournament that will be held at Wright State in 2013.
“We’re using this one to get our feet wet,” said organizer Theresa Mileo, Wright State’s director of ceremonies and protocol. “It will be a long, hard day, but it is going to be a lot of fun. It’s neat to see the kids get so excited. It’s all about them.”
The “kids” are bright middle and high school students with a passion for science and engineering. Seventy-six teams of them will arrive at Wright State from points in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Tennessee.
Most of the teams will be from the Buckeye State, coming from Harrison in the far southwest corner of Ohio to the Toledo suburb of Sylvania in the north. The team coming the farthest hails from Lebanon, Tenn., a 320-mile trip that will take nearly six hours.
Science Olympiad features competitions in biology, chemistry, earth science, astronomy, physics and technology. The school-based teams prepare and practice throughout the year, then compete in regional and state tournaments. The top teams advance to the national tournament.
In all, Wright State will play host to three Science Olympiad competitions — the Feb. 26 invitational, a larger invitational in January 2012 and the even larger national tournament in May 2013. The three events are expected to pour an estimated $1.6 million into the region in restaurant, motel and other business.
Classrooms, labs, auditoriums and gymnasiums in 10 Wright State buildings will be used for the invitational, which involves 46 events.
The events begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at 3:45 p.m. However, Mileo and her team of volunteers will be in well before 6 a.m. For details, visit http://www.wright.edu/scienceolympiad/
“There’s a lot we’re going to have to go in and do before everything starts,” she said. “We’ll have to go in and log on every single computer, for example.”
There will be knowledge-based competitions in anatomy, astronomy, earth science, biology, fossils, chemistry and physics. But there will also be engineering events ideal for spectators involving such things as model helicopters and mousetrap vehicles.
“They’re going to be launching soda bottle rockets,” said organizer CeAnn Chalker, a national committee chair for Science Olympiad.
Wright State will operate two campus concession stands to feed the competitors. On order are 1,248 cans of soda, 150 pizzas, 300 hot dogs, 36 pounds of nacho chips, 48 pounds of nacho cheese, 32 dozen doughnuts, 200 bags of Cheetos and Doritos, 750 assorted candy bars and 240 bottles of water.
The day will be capped with an awards ceremony. Victors will receive trophies with Wright State green-and-gold columns crowned with the Lamp of Learning, which symbolizes the pursuit and attainment of knowledge. There will also be medals and ribbons for the top eight performers in each event.
The students, many of them college bound, will also get a good look at Wright State.
“This is going to be the first time for many students to be on a college campus,” Chalker said. “They are going to be able to see all of that Wright State has to offer. The facilities are incredible.”