Updated 05/26/2012 02:45 PM
Elementary students put STEM Skills to test at UNC Charlotte competition
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CHARLOTTE -- Hundreds of elementary school students spent their Saturday building, testing and launching at the fourth annual Elementary Science Olympiad at UNC Charlotte. About 900 students made up 59 teams from the region.
"It's just for people to come together and they all love science,” said Providence Springs Elementary student Emma Schieding.
The fifth grader is participating in three events this year, but for her, the Olympiad started with team get togethers weeks ago.
"We test and we practice and we just get better and better,” she said.
But this event is just as fun for Emma's dad, Kurt Schieding, who's been coaching Science Olympiad teams for years.
"We look forward to the time between December and May every year because that's Science Olympiad time. My garage is dedicated to Science Olympiad, my wife knows I'm off limits for any major trips or anything like that, so it's a fun time,” said Kurt Schieding.
As an engineer, he loves science and math, and he wants his kids to as well.
"I feel like our children don't get enough of that, so for me personally, it's about that,” said Kurt Schieding.
Event coordinators say research shows that children make up their minds about science as early as the second grade.
"So what we want to try to do with Olympiad is get students interested, engaged, excited about science so that hopefully, they'll continue to think science is something they want to continue to do in the future,” said Jason Painter, director of The Science House.
And this hands-on experience is why Emma Schieding is considering the field for a career.
"I'd always remember this as my start if I ever became a scientist,” said Emma.
Giving these kids not just a fun, competitive event to participate in, but the foundation for a future.
"The knowledge, the skills, the problem solving, critical thinking, the things we really want in the future scientists and citizens of tomorrow, are really on display here today,” said Painter.
Event coordinators say this elementary Science Olympiad is the biggest one in the state.