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Montana State hosts over 800 students for annual Montana Science Olympiad

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Posted at 9:56 AM, Apr 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-22 12:57:00-04

BOZEMAN — The Science Olympiad is a national competition that’s taken place in Montana for 40 years. This year, Montana State University hosted more than 800 students from 32 schools across the state.

“Hopefully, the weight is pushed down evenly among the triangles and distributes the weight along the whole tower” two Lorel high school students told me as they showed off their tower.

These students are competing in the tower event, where students create a structure out of sticks and glue that has to be at least 61 centimeters tall and hold up to 33 pounds. Brady, a sixth grader from Florence, shows off his tower.

“The strategy was to make sure the beams were inside and out, to ensure it was the strongest that it could be,” says Brady.

This event is just one of thirty held at the annual Montana Science Olympiad that took place Friday, April 19. Other events include fields related to life sciences, chemistry, engineering, and more.

“We describe it as an academic track meet because there's all different kinds of events. And some people specialize in anatomy, other people in meteorology,” says Suzi Taylor, the director of the Science Math Resource Center on the MSU campus.

The schools that participated include Belgrade, Billings, Bozeman, Chinook, Choteau, Clancy, Conrad, Corvallis, Darby, East Helena, Ennis, Fergus, Fromberg, Gallatin Gateway, Hamilton, Hardin, Harrison, Helena, Huntley Project, Kalispell, Laurel, Lewistown, Libby, Livingston, Manhattan, Noxon, Reed Point, Roundup, Shepherd, Sidney, Thompson Falls and Whitefish.

“What’s cool is this is not a one-day thing for the students. They’ve been working all year. If you're gonna see how much your tower can hold you have to break a lot of towers. So they’ll build samples and break them and figure out what went wrong and make it better,” says Suzi.

One champion from high school and one from middle school will be crowned winners at the end of the state tournament. Those students will go on to nationals to compete for Montana—which is a big deal for these students' future.

“If you go to a job interview and they see, ‘Oh wow, you did science Olympiad,’ a lot of people really recognize that is a huge commitment. It's a really big honor for students to be a medalist,” Suzi tells me.

Dan and Noah from East Helena High School have a pretty good shot at being a medalist, considering they were able to make a tower that held the maximum weight of 33 pounds. So what did they do with their tower to celebrate? They smashed it, of course.