UA brings Science Olympiad to area students


From left: Maggie Weiss-Vopat, grade 5; Grace Julien, grade 4; and Madison Pugh, grade 4, all from King Elementary School, and Quinn Toth-Cseplo, grade 4, from Miller-South School for the Arts, learn what a polymer is by using molecular models in their first session of Polymer Detectives, coached by UA's Dr. Coleen Pugh.

University of Akron polymer scientists and engineers and other scientific community members have students from King, Leggett, Miller South, Our Lady of the Elms and surrounding elementary schools building rockets out of soda bottles, creating puff mobiles, making potions, identifying rocks and participating in other Science Olympiad activities on Sundays, Feb. 6 to March 27 at UA.

Every one of the 26 current Science Olympiad participants, who are in grades two through five, can participate in up to four hands-on activities, says Dr. Coleen Pugh, UA professor of polymer science and program director, who adds that the students’ first Science Olympiad practice session, Feb. 6, has participants anxiously anticipating their next gathering.

Good mix of learning and fun

“We had an exciting first day of practice for Science Olympiad, filled with excited children, enthusiastic coaches and helpful parents,” Pugh says. “The facilities generously donated by the Department of Polymer Science at the University are working well, with a nice combination of classrooms and laboratory, as well as a central area for parents to mingle and children to play in between their events.

Student participants meet for 45-minute intervals, beginning at noon at the Goodyear Polymer Center where they participate in science-related activities designed to challenge youngsters while teaching them team-building techniques and piquing their interest in science.

Pugh received funding from the National Science Foundation to tap elementary students' scientific curiosities and to support their teachers in the delivery of inquiry-based, problem-solving science education. She hopes to receive additional NSF funding to spread the program to other schools.

Media contact: Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or