June 5, 2007
Georgia students perform well at Science Olympiad
Augusta, Ga. – One Augusta State University professor is optimistic about the state of science education in Georgia after a recent national competition. Dr. William Wellnitz, professor of biology at Augusta State University, says Georgia schools brilliantly represented the state during the National Science Olympiad held at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kan. May 16-19 and have a long history of performing well in the science competitions. The event consisted of 60 middle school and 60 high school teams from across the country competing in 23 different science contests.
Dr. Wellnitz, who has served as director of the Georgia Science Olympiad for the past two years, says Georgia has the eighth largest participation in the country. Both middle school teams representing Georgia placed in the top half of the competition. J.C. Booth Middle School in Peachtree City finished third overall, and Fulton Science Academy in Alpharetta placed 29th. In the high school division, Parkview High School in Lilburn placed 25th, and Westminster Schools of Atlanta came in 33rd. Each of the four schools had students who earned medals, placing sixth or higher in at least one event.
“It certainly says Georgia has a strong Science Olympiad program,” says Dr. Wellnitz. “And that is a reflection of science education in the state.”
The National Science Olympiad began in 1982 with the mission of promoting interest in science and improving the quality of science education among students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Teams first compete in a regional competition, and the top 20 percent advance to the state event. The first, and sometimes, second place teams move on to the national competition. Dr. Wellnitz has also served as a Georgia Science Olympiad regional tournament director from 1998 to 2005.
Augusta State University has hosted several regional and state Science Olympiad competitions in the past, and it will host the National Science Olympiad in 2009, attracting several thousand participants and spectators to the Augusta area. Augusta State first hosted a regional competition in 1990. ASU also hosted the regional Science Olympiad in 2005 as well as the 2006 State Middle School and 2007 State High School Science Olympiads. The university is also scheduled to host the 2008 State and High School Science Olympiads.
Dr. Wellnitz has been at ASU since 1990. A native of Gary, Ind., he has published five children’s science books and was known as Wizard Wellnitz on two television shows, Xis and Kidnection. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Microbiology, and the Society of Sigma Xi. Dr. Wellnitz earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, a master’s degree from Colorado University, and a doctoral degree, also from Cornell University.
More information on the competition is available at the Georgia Science Olympiad website: www.aug.edu/gaso or the National Science Olympiad website: www.soinc.org.
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