The Shorter University campus was buzzing with handmade rockets, simple machines, chemical reactions, and lots of excitement as the Department of Natural Sciences hosted the Science Olympiad on Saturday, January 29.
Nearly 150 middle school students, from 4th to 9th grades, took part in 23 different events focused on various STEM activities. The Science Olympiad at Shorter drew 10 teams from seven different schools and home school groups in three states (Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee).
Dr. Daniel Clayton, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Shorter and organizer of the event, said, “This is one of the most important outreach events that the Department of Natural Sciences hosts. It is a critical component of Shorter University’s overall mission to give back to our local, state, and regional community and help move students forward in their excitement for learning. The fact that we are able to bring a Christian component to our science events only further strengthens the power of positive influence on everyone that participates. This was our second year running the event, but the first time we were able to have it in person.”
Shorter had more than 50 student volunteers helping with the event, including majors in the sciences, math, education, and communication. They were led by 20-plus Shorter faculty and staff volunteers from the Natural Science, Math, Education, and Music departments.
Science Olympiad activities took place in a number of venues across campus including the Thornwood Gym, Rome Hall classrooms, and the University’s recently renovated science labs. Since 2015, four labs in Shorter’s science building have been renovated, including the Microbiology lab, Botany lab, General Biology lab, and the General Chemistry lab, which was completed for Fall 2021. Those renovations are rebuilding Shorter’s historic Rome Hall from the inside out, and additional improvements are planned thanks to donor support generated through the University’s SUForward Campaign.
“The General Chemistry laboratory upgrade has been a blessing,” Dr. Clayton said. “Student performance in the laboratory has greatly improved. The new layout and lighting allow for students to better see their experiments and traverse the laboratory, increasing their efficiency and decreasing the number of mistakes. This has also improved laboratory safety and allowed for easier laboratory instruction. On top of all of this, students simply seem to enjoy their time in the laboratory more—as did the middle schoolers who took part in Chemistry experiments during Saturday’s Science Olympiad.”