A PHOTOS GALLERY: When you do it right, this is what the Science Olympiad looks like

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Vic MacDonald-Editor

So, absolutely out of the blue, I got this e-mail: The South Carolina Science Olympiad has found its new permanent home at Presbyterian College.

Really, it took a Cross Hill minute for it to sink in.

You do really, don’t you? my inner voice said, some of the best work you have ever done has been at the Science Olympiad. Who Knew? in 2012 when I was re-assigned by my company to Clinton, that I would be walking into Science Town SC. And now, IT’S EVEN BETTER!! All I have to do to cover it is go onto the campus of my adopted college – because, of course, it’s all about me.

No. Really. It’s all about “the kids”.

If we are ever going to cure cancer, they’re going to be the ones to do it. Go down the list of everything mankind has yet to accomplish:

If we’re going to live on Mars, they’re going to do it.

If we’re going to turn the tide on climate change, they’re going to do it.

If we’re going to improve the quality of life in old age, they’re going to be the ones to do it.

If we are going to prevent world war, in spite of the large number of sinister forces pushing us in that direction, they are going to do it.

And, just let me say, Good On You, Presbyterian College – this event needs to be located in the MIDDLE of South Carolina.

So, in that “good work” vein, with eternal gratitude to the students and coaches of Team Clinton, here is just a small sampling of their success – and tremendously hard work – over many, many years. I’ve just been a chronicler since 2012 – they are the Legacy: past present and future.

This is some of my first coverage of Team Clinton, the South Carolina Science Olympiad Champions:

PAGE ONE & JUMP   02-20-2012   Science Olympiad caption

VIC MacDONALD/CHRONICLE

Montage caption

We are the Champions. The Bell Street Middle School Science Olympiad Team comes, sees and conquers the SC Science Olympiad for the 10th straight year on Saturday at Newberry College. In several categories, the Clinton school’s A Team wins first and the B Team wins second places. The junior scientists receive their medals and trophy in the closing ceremonies at the college’s Wiles Chapel. Now, Bell Street’s 34-member team is off to Nationals in Orlando.

DOMINATE PHOTO, mousetrap car:

Will it run? You bet it will! The Bell Street A Team in the Mousetrap Vehicle event places its car on the start line, as an audience of other teams’ members, parents and coaches watch in Eleazer Arena at Newberry College. The A Team for this event is Lawrence Coleman and Dalton Langston. Their vehicle, powered by a mousetrap, rubber bands and pullies, travels the entire 11 meters, twice, drawing cheers from the audience. They win the event.

LOCAL 02-28-2012    Science Olympiad follow

Traveling funds

Bell Street team looks to compute

cost of going to national competition

By VIC MacDONALD

Staff Writer

Two variables are being examined regarding the Bell Street Middle School Science Olympiad team’s trip in May to the national competition in Orlando.

First, Clinton High School competes in the high school level Science Olympiad on March 17. Depending on their success, the CHS senior scientists could be traveling with the Bell Street junior scientists.

The Bell Street team has owned the state Science Olympiad title for the past 10 years.

Second, with the Clinton High team figured into the travel and lodging expenses – which have yet to be determined – organizers of the trip locally will be examining whether or not Bell Street can take its A Team and its Be Team.

A Team members won several competitions, but the B Teamers did really well, also. Bell Street swept first and second in two categories in the Feb. 18 Science Olympiad at Newberry College.

“It is my understanding that Clinton High School will have an A Team and a B Team as well,” said Terri O’Shields, sponsor for the Bell Street Science Olympiad team. “This has really taken off in this town. Some of those participating at the high school did not compete in middle school, but the vast majority did.”

Bell Street’s junior scientists were honored Monday night at the regular meeting of the District 56 school district board.

The students, obviously, want to see their middle school successes carry over into their high school careers – and beyond.

“We have letters from three members of our Science Olympiad alumni. One is in the National Science Foundation. One has 25 patents. One is getting a doctorate in education in science,” O’Shields said.

She sent these letters of endorsement for the program to 3rd District Congressman Jeff Duncan, who met with the Bell Street team last Tuesday at the middle school in Clinton.

On Wednesday, between 10 and 10:30 a.m., Duncan made good on his promise to tell the nation about the success of the Bell Street program in remarks from the floor of the United States Congress.

The remarks – and the names of all students in the 2012 Bell Street Science Olympiad team – are included in the permanent record of every remark made in the U.S. Congress, the Congressional Record.

The national competition is May 18-19 in Orlando. O’Shields said much more activity will be gearing up in the coming weeks to raise money for the Bell Street and the Clinton High School teams to make the trip. An advantage this year for the Clinton scientists, Orlando is just a one-day travel from the midlands of South Carolina; last year’s national competition was in Wisconsin. Side trips for the local students included Chicago and the caves of Kentucky.

O’Shields said she and the Bell Street coaches would like to take all 34 middle school competitors to Orlando. “Obviously, that depends on funding. We certainly want to get the A Team there, and we would like to get the B Team there,” she said.

Members of the Bell Street Science Olympiad are:

A Team 2012 – Mike Beasley, Stephanie Braswell, Jalen Carter, Lawrence Coleman, Terry Craig, Andrew Gann, Karl Gustafson, Dalton Langston, Beth Meadors, Zack Ray, Johnathan Shiflet, Kyle Smith, Bowen Tiller, Nathan Vondergeest, and Clay Wright.

Alternates – Triston Moon, Daniel Moore, Luke Ragin and Jacob Wesson.

B Team – Audrey Atkinson, Chris Cannon, Justin Easter, Dawson Green, Jack Harkins, Tara Hiller, Ami Meadors, Olivia Moore, Brianna Motte, Jakob Pountain, Michael Richey, Justin Shockley, Dillon Snead and Bailey Stephens.

LOCAL/inside  02-29-2012      Rep. Duncan makes good

Bell Street Science Olympiad Team

They are now in the permanent

record of United States Congress

By VIC MacDONALD

Staff Writer

Other Science Olympiad state winning middle schools must be saying today, “Hey, wait a minute. We won, too!” But they did not have their names transcribed in the permanent record of the United States Congress.

They won’t be able to Google their names 100 years from now, and find it there. They won’t have something they can tell their children and grandchildren about.

Of course, some of them have not been champions 10 years in a row. Third District Congressman Jeff Duncan made good on his promise Wednesday to read into the Congressional Record an appreciation statement of the Bell Street Middle School, Clinton, South Carolina, Science Olympiad Team.

In fact, speaking from the floor of the Congress, Duncan called them, “the incredibly successful Bell Street team.”

“It’s your turn now – when you have children, you will want to hear their names and (have them) be successful,” said Science Olympiad head coach Terri O’Shields, after the students assembled in the library had cheered Duncan’s remarks.

They also cheered when Duncan came on the wide screen TV screen. They had to sit through several other 5-minute presentations. They learned that last Wednesday was the late former First Lady Pat Nixon’s 100th birthday. They learned that Garden Clubs of America produce interesting environmental statements.

They learned that there is a humanitarian crisis and war going on in provinces of the Sudan.

They learned that a Hispanic Congressman from Illinois is not a big fan of Republican Presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney’s support of Arizona’s immigration reform effort.

They learned about a former G-man who fought crime as a small-town police chief. They learned about the exploits of a Medal of Honor winner in World War II.

O’Shields told her Academic Bowl students, embedded in the Science Olympiad group, to listen as questions about these topics might come up in their competitions.

There was no way they could listen to that stuff.

The only thing they wanted to hear was “the congressman from South Carolina,” and they erupted in applause.

Duncan praised the young people as the next great scientists and innovators of America, and he read their names. For their latest win of the South Carolina Science Olympiad in February, the Bell Streeters also drew the praise of the District 56 school board, meeting last Monday at Clinton High School.

Video of Duncan’s appearance posted on YouTube will be embedded in the district’s Website and the school Website.

“God continue to bless Bell Street Middle School,” Congressman Duncan said to conclude his remarks. Each member of Congress who chose to speak on matters of his or her own personal interest had 5 minutes at the microphone.

“This is how regular people get recognized,” O’Shields said to her students. They were really impressed when they realized that, through C-Span, the remarks could be heard by people all over the world.

Duncan said that the changing curriculum of the Science Olympiad competition “exposes students to a variety of science experiences,” and he quoted from letters by Bell Street Science Olympiad “alumni” who talked about life-changing experiences participating in the annual competition.

Editor’s Note: See future issues of The Clinton Chronicle to learn about fund-raising efforts on behalf of the Bell Street Science Olympiad team, hopefully, to take the entire 34-member team to Nationals May 18-19 in Orlando. Science Olympiad students from Clinton High School compete in their senior olympics on March 17, with invitations to Nationals on the line. Clinton High School, like Bell Street in the junior scientists’ category, is defending state champions in the senior scientists’ category.

And now, in 2024:

Presbyterian College to host 2025 South Carolina Science Olympiad

Presbyterian College will host the state’s premiere science competition for K-12 students beginning in 2025.

The S.C. Science Olympiad will be held on campus next spring, bringing hundreds of young scientists from across the state to compete in a wide variety of team-oriented activities. 

PC president Dr. Anita Gustafson said the college enthusiastically embraces the opportunity to play host to the event.

“Presbyterian College is very proud to be named host for the S.C. Science Olympiad and we consider it an honor to welcome students from all over the state to compete in this prestigious contest,” she said. “We look forward to meeting South Carolina’s future scientists and providing them an inviting space to challenge themselves and each other.”

The Science Olympiad holds significant importance to the Clinton community. In Division B, Bell Street Middle and Clinton Middle schools in Laurens County School District 56 have won the state Science Olympiad 22 out of the last 38 years, including a 17-year win streak between 2003 and 2019. At the high school level in Division C, Clinton High School has won 13 total state championships. 

District 56 superintendent and temporary director Dr. David O’Shields said PC becoming the permanent home of the Science Olympiad is a “dream come true.”

“Presbyterian College has always had such a strong science program and has distinguished itself even more by adding the School of Pharmacy and the occupational therapy and physician assistant programs,” he said. “Our community has really united behind the idea of turning the City of Clinton into ‘Science City, S.C.’ and I can’t think of a better place for that to happen than PC. I always think of the college as a diamond that is often overlooked and the Science Olympiad will expose students from the entire state to its beautiful campus and talented professors.”    

The Science Olympiad was created in 1983 by Dr. Gerard J. Putz and Jack Cairns to increase the interest in science and as an alternative to traditional science fairs and single-discipline tournaments. After successful trial Olympiads were held in their respective states of Michigan and Delaware, the Science Olympiad began to grow. The Olympiad now has members in all 50 states totaling more than 13,500 actively participating K-12 schools.

Each team of 15 prepares throughout the school year to compete in Science Olympiad tournaments held on local, state and national levels. These inter-scholastic competitions consist of a series of 23 individual and team events that encourage learning in biology, earth science, chemistry, physics, problem solving and technology. Events in the Science Olympiad have been designed to recognize the wide variety of skills that students possess. While some events require knowledge of scientific facts and concepts, others rely on science processes, skills or applications. This ensures that everyone can participate, including students from technology classes or advanced science classes.

The National Science Olympiad is an international nonprofit organization devoted to improving the quality of science education and increasing student interest in science. The Science Olympiad has been on the cutting edge of educational innovations for over thirty years. These innovations include an emphasis on high academic standards; demonstration of skills through performance testing; learning through hands-on, minds-on activities; cooperative learning through events which require teamwork; improved self-concept through success in achieving high standards; mastery learning of core curriculum goals and objectives; making applications and connections to the real world; and integrating not only the disciplines of science but the entire spectrum of learning. 

The Science Olympiad owes much of its success to the fact that it was developed by teachers for teachers and their students, and because it embodies the best of all educational research and innovation. Regional and State Science Olympiad competitions are held throughout the United States and Canada.

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The National Science Olympiad here.