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UNG played host to annual Science Olympiad competition

Myers Elementary School in Hall County won first overall in the Science Olympiad tournament.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) hosted the second annual Elementary Science Olympiad competition on the Gainesville Campus on April 15.

The tournament featured over 200 elementary students from Hall, Lumpkin and White county school systems competing in more than 18 events in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields.

Heather Banks, a third grade teacher at Oakwood Elementary, saw the positive impact participating in the competition could have on her students and it has encouraged her to continue competing each year.

"The first year our school participated in Science Olympiad, I had a student in my third grade class that came to me struggling in reading," Banks said. "Science Olympiad was open to all students and he realized that if he signed up for it he wouldn’t have to go to after school tutoring.  As a result, he became excited about school. During the competition, he placed in many events that boosted his self-confidence, which carried over into all his academics.  By the end of the year he had changed his attitude about school, was reading above grade level and was a more motivated student."

Dr. April Nelms, department head of teacher education for the College of Education at UNG, led this year’s event. She was assisted by several UNG professors including Davis Osmond, assistant professor of science education; Donna Governor, assistant professor of teacher education; Dr. Sanghee Choi, associate professor of science education; Dr. Gina Childers, assistant professor of teacher education; Dr. Chantelle Grant, associate professor of teacher education; Dr. Carl Ohrenberg, assistant professor chemistry; and Dr. Mark Spraker, professor of physics.

"Working with Science Olympiad is a blast. It has transformed how I think about young students learning science. The kids and parents are so passionate about their work. I can’t help but to smile when I see how much the kids love working in teams to solve the challenges," said Osmond.

Tori Jones is a fifth grade teacher at Lumpkin County Elementary and an alum of UNG with endorsements in science and the gifted program, and because teaching science is her passion in life, she was enthusiastic about joining Science Olympiad. 

"All of last year's participants were eager to sign up again for this year's competition. Last year was our first year to enter a team into the competition, and we had many individual winners, coming in third place overall. This year we had 31 students, forming two teams who have participated monthly in a science club. It was so exciting to see this many kids get involved," Jones said.



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