Booneville schools, in collaboration with the Guy Fenter Education Service Cooperative, will host the regional STEM Olympiad for students in grade 5-12 on May 9 of this year. Open to all private, public, and home school students in the region, the Olympiad attracted 1,600 participants last year and expect even larger crowds this year.

STEM Olympiad allows students to participate in seven areas of competition as well as provides teacher and student training in the programming through the use of Ozbot toys, robots, and drones.

Students participate in competitions including robot wars, egg buggy roll, roller-coaster design, catapults, and people powered vehicles. Students have demonstrated outstanding and amazing success and ability in past years. One group from Magazine schools designed a people powered vehicle that was pushed 25 foot but continued carrying a passenger for a distanced of 1,877 feet; nearly a half mile. Others have designed vehicles that glide on air across the gym floor or purify water taken from a pond to drinkable quality. Most of the competitors research and design the apparatus before they come. This allows them to learn basic math, science, and engineering skills that are helpful throughout life. Each school also brings a team who solve a problem and design an answer on site. The entire process excites kids about STEM careers while they learn science and math skills.

In addition, the competition is ran much like a track meet with multiple events going on at the same time. During periods the students are not competing, they will be able to visit some or all of the twenty-six booths set up in the commons area. These include career educators from various colleges, Game and Fish, EMS van and crew, Arkansas Geological Survey, Magazine Mountain State Park and others. This year, the air force will have an added attraction in the flight simulator that the students will be able to try out.

Parents and visitors are welcome to attend the event and watch the competition in restricted areas. Last year, more than 500 adults came to view the excitement. The event starts at 9 AM and runs till 1:30 when awards are presented. KISR radio will be on hand announcing the events and keeping the excitement level up.

Students from the twenty-two districts comprising GFESC will participate. These include area schools Booneville, Paris, Magazine, Scranton, Ozark, County Line, Lavaca, Van Buren, Mulberry, Cedarville and others. For additional information, contact STEM coordinators Amber Cobb or Dr. Curtis Varnell at GFESC.