There’s bound to be a little nail-biting going on around here this Saturday, March 4. Some students will be holding their breath while their Rube Goldberg-like gizmoes whistle, ring and sink golf balls; others will keep their fingers crossed while waiting to see how well their intricate wooden towers do at supporting a bucket of sand; and still others will compete in contests of biology, chemistry and computers.

The Minnesota High School Science Olympiad, a competition that measures science skills rather than athletic prowess, will bring 480 of the state’s best young intellects to the University of St. Thomas. The 16th annual event is designed to generate enthusiasm for science and to provide students an opportunity to have fun while putting scientific principles to work.

The 32 teams who earned a berth in the March 4 state finals competed in regional events held Feb. 4 at Moorhead State University and Feb. 5 at Bethel College, Inver Hills Community College and Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Perennial science powerhouse Lakeville is the defending champion and last year went on to finish fifth in national competition. Other schools that finished in the Minnesota top five last year also will be returning in 2000: Apple Valley, Rochester Mayo, Waseca and Chaska. Rounding out this year’s field will be Byron, St. Paul Central, Moorhead, Bloomington Jefferson and Bloomington Kennedy, Blaine, Minneapolis South, Eagan, Orono, Hill-Murray, Randolph, Columbia Heights, North St. Paul, Rochester Century and Rochester John Marshall, Totino-Grace, Hibbing, Osakis, Cook, Rosemount, Norman County West, Delano, Faribault, Stillwater, Mahtomedi, Red Wing and Bemidji.

In addition to the to the tower building and Rube Goldberg-gizmo (it’s officially titled "Mission Possible") contests, the 15-member teams compete in events like Amphibians and Reptiles, Bio Process Lab, Bottle Rocket, Cell Biology, Chemistry Lab, Cow-A-Bungee, Disease Detectives and Qualitative Analysis.

In all, there are 26 events; each is free and open to the public. The competition takes place from 9 a.m. to 1:50 p.m. in Owens Science Hall, O’Shaughnessy Science Hall and McCarthy Gym. All three are located on the St. Thomas campus that is west of Cretin Avenue. A schedule of times and locations will be available in Owens Science Hall.

Winners will be announced at the 3:30 p.m. awards ceremony in O’Shaughnessy Educational Center.

Sponsoring this year’s Science Olympiad are the Minnesota Academy of Science, Koch Industries, 3M and St. Thomas. Director of the event is Michael Huberty, a math and science teacher with Mounds View Public Schools.

More information about the Minnesota Science Olympiad can be found on the Web at



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