May 22, 2012
Public Affairs Office
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Twenty-one ERDC Construction Engineering Research Laboratory-ites (CERL-ites) sacrificed their Saturday to volunteer for the Illinois State Science Olympiad competition, which was recently held on the University of Illinois campus. They comprised 10 percent of all volunteers for the event, which hosted 96 schools from around the state.
According to the Illinois Science Olympiad Web site, Science Olympiad began as the creative endeavors of Dr. Gerard Putz and Jack Cairns, who thought it necessary to do something about science education in the U.S. to get students not only interested in, but excited about science. It was tested in schools to determine student response and then enlarged to make it a multiple-school competition. The program has since grown from a one-county competition to include teams from all 50 states and parts of Canada.
Students in grades 6-12 participate in the Science Olympiad. The event is designed to be a hands-on experience. It emphasizes biology, chemistry, earth science, and physics, with engineering and technology applications that combine several of these disciplines.
Volunteers for the state competition included Anjili Patel, Giselle Rodriguez, Susan Drozdz, John Mudrick, Brenda Mehnert, Carey Baxter, Melixa Rivera-Sustache, Francisco Ambros, Michael and Patricia Kemme, Carmen Costales-Nieves, Lauren Ronsse, Ed Smith, Chandler Armstrong, Harold Balbach, Vincent Hock, Mariangelica Carrasquillo-Mangual, Axy Pagan Vazquez, Veera Boddu, Niels Svendsen, Kelly Dilks, and Mark Ginsberg.
“I was impressed and excited to see several of CERL’s volunteers step up and quickly change directions when Science Olympiad needed help,” said Patricia Kemme, who has organized the laboratory’s participation for several years. “For example, Axy was willing to change events at the last minute. His new event, Technical Problem Solving, is a very hard event to rank and Science Olympiad needed a talented person willing to think outside of the box.”
She also cited Mehnert, who stepped in at the last minute as a supervisor for Junior High’s Geocaching event. “Within a very short timeframe, Brenda developed a fun but challenging Geocaching course with help from Carey Baxter and Susan Drozdz. Giselle also took on more responsibility to serve as supervisor for Green Generation – committing herself to six hours of non-stop proctoring exams and grading,” said Kemme.
Many of the same CERL employees had volunteered earlier this year for the Regional Science Olympiad at Champaign’s Parkland Community College. Thanks to the laboratory’s strong support of the event, Science Olympiad and the local schools may host the area’s first invitational competition next year.