Alabama Power, Vulcan Materials Company, and the Alabama Section of the American Chemical Society Support UAB Science and Technology Honors Program
Charlotte Mae Kent, Meredith Hubbard,
Last year, three UAB Science and Technology Honors Program students organized the regional arm of a national Science Olympiad in whichmore than 200 Alabama high-school students competed for top prizes. The UAB honors students took the project on as part of their three-semester leadership preparation sequence.
To raise operating funds, the UAB students wrote grants that were sponsored by Alabama Power, Vulcan Materials Company, and the Alabama Section of the American Chemical Society. They also raised $1,000 to award a scholarship to underwrite the costs for a deserving team that lacked financial resources to attend. This will be awarded at the 2012 competition.
“We are most likely the first tournament ever to be organized and implemented by students alone,” says Charlotte Mae Kent, a Science and Technology Honors Program student and one of the tournament directors. Students Evan Colmenares and Meredith Hubbard joined Kent in facilitating this event. “With the rising cost of gasoline and budget cuts within publicschool systems, we realized there was a need to have a centrally located tournament in Alabama,” Kent says. Past Olympiad competitions were held in Tuscaloosa, Huntsville, and Mobile.
Science Olympiad engages nearly 6,000 students across the country in rigorous, standards-based challenges. Alabama student teams from regional school systems in Birmingham, Dora, Alexander City, and Montgomery competed in February in events that emphasize teamwork and group participation. They conducted experiments, took written tests, and competed head-to-head. The three honors students worked with the Alabama coordinator for Science Olympiad and the UAB administration to make arrangements to host it and notified area schools. They started working on the program in spring 2010 and had a clear plan and a date in place by the end of that semester.
“Most high-school students do not get to go inside a college chemistry lab, much less use one before entering college,” Kent says. “This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the beautiful labs we have at UAB. Hopefully, this opportunity enabled more students to fall in love with science and choose to make their career in a scientific field.”
Each of the student tournament directors involved in the Science Olympiad also are involved in a research lab on campus and are working to complete their undergraduate honors theses. Because of their schedules and the enormity of hosting the Olympiad, the team asked some fellow students to take the lead on parts of implementing the plan. Several other students wrote some of the tests for the competition and helped proctor during the event.
“This group has been exemplary,” says Diane Tucker, Ph.D., director of the UAB Science and Technology Honors Program. “They’re high-energy, organized, purposeful, and have had an attitude that they would figure out how to make the Science Olympiad competition happen. It is a tribute to their professionalism.” According to Tucker, the Science Olympiad was initiated as a final project for the Honors Academy Leadership Preparation course sequence. “This course will generate many more exciting initiatives from students in the coming semesters,” she adds.
Maintaining the Momentum / Summer 2011