While T-shirts of various school colors promoted other Science Olympiad teams, the white lab coats worn by Central Magnet School students stood out.
They looked collegial, professional and dapper.
Central Magnet students were among 14 high school teams and 10 middle school teams competing for berths in next month's State Science Olympiad during the 20th annual Regional Science Olympiad at MTSU Saturday (Feb. 28) primarily in the first-year Science Building.
Central Magnet earned first place in the high school division, with Rossview High in Clarksville, Tennessee, Spring Hill and Clarksville Northeast finishing second through fourth, respectively, and advancing to the Tennessee Science Olympiad Saturday, April 11, in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Murfreesboro's St. Rose of Lima finished first in the middle school division. Also advancing were Dayspring Academy of Greenbrier, Tennessee, Rockvale and Smyrna Middle. All four advance to the state tournament at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
More than 300 students and nearly 100 volunteers descended upon MTSU for the event that highlights STEM or science, technology, engineering and mathematics. There are 46 events altogether, with 23 in Division B (middle school) and 23 in Division C (high school).
Khalin Freeman of Blackman High School talks about his participation...
"This is gigantic," said regional Director Pat Patterson, an MTSU chemistry professor. "It's exciting to have this in the Science Building. You see the (students') excitement and the frustrations. ... Students (now) appreciate science more. They look forward to doing this in the classroom."
Yes, things can go well. And they can go south, too. The participants are at the mercy of how they have prepared their bottle rockets, robotics, wheeled vehicles and more. And they also must adhere to the Science Olympiad rules.
"This has been a really awesome experience," said Khalin Freeman, a Blackman High School junior, who participated with sophomore Andrew Carden.
"This has been a really fun learning experience," added Carden.
During the time leading up to the regional, Freeman and Carden said their Science Olympiad partner was always there to help.
Smyrna Middle School seventh-graders Addison Wilson and Aliyah Weaver competed in the "Crave the Wave" event that involves sound waves.
"It was nerve-wracking at first," Wilson said of the experience. "Then we got used to it. It was not as bad as we thought. We just didn't know what to expect. There was the mystery element."
For Weaver, the process proved to be "terrifying, but we knew we had good knowledge, so we felt confident anyway."
MTSU faculty, staff, student teachers and students contributed to the volunteer effort. Cumberland University physics faculty member Bobby Nichols, who helped oversee the "Scrambler" event, also assisted.
The Department of Chemistry and Colleges of Basic and Applied Sciences and Graduate Studies are the Regional Science Olympiad's primary sponsors.