UNI to host upcoming Iowa Science Olympiad

Skills in science, technology, engineering and math will be put to the test at the upcoming Iowa Science Olympiad, held at the University of Northern Iowa on Saturday, March 7. 

The Iowa Science Olympiad is an annual competition for junior high and high school students from around the state. Over the course of the day-long event, students work in partnerships to compete in different scientific disciplines including  chemistry, physics, biology, engineering, general science knowledge and more.

Iowa Science Olympiad Director Jill Maroo, assistant professor of biology, says the event offers students a different kind of challenge.

“We have competitions for athletics, the arts, and everything else, so it’s nice to have a competition for science in Iowa,” Maroo said. “Especially with this kind of competition, it changes the way students think about science. Because the events are so varied, we’re able to pull in students who maybe don’t see themselves being interested in science, but they enjoy building, coding, or other things you don’t typically associate with that field. We can expose them to so many opportunities in science and STEM that they wouldn’t be exposed to in their regular classroom.”

Maroo added that the competition builds a number of skills that are critical in today’s world.

“Students practice and improve their skills in problem solving and critical thinking, but they also learn to research, to be strategic and prepared, and most importantly to work as part of a team,” she said. “There’s a misconception that science is often done solo, but that’s rarely the case. You always have a team and it’s important to learn how to work and communicate as a team to be successful.”

This year, more than 500 students are expected to take part in the Iowa Science Olympiad. These students represent 38 teams from 28 different schools across the state.

Students compete overall as part of a team, and work with their individual partners to earn points during each event. Events range from coding a video game, to water quality testing, to building objects, flying and launching planes and gliders, epidemiology, forensics and more. Several events will be open for the public to observe. 

The competition will wrap up with an awards ceremony that includes opening remarks from University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook. President Nook and UNI’s College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences Dean John Fritch will award students their medals.

The University of Northern Iowa will also award scholarships to event winners and overall team winners of the Iowa Science Olympiad, up to a maximum of $500 per student per year. 

For more information, or a schedule of events, visit https://sites.google.com/view/iowa-science-olympiad/iowa-science-olympiad.


Jill Maroo, UNI Department of Biology,

Director of the Iowa Science Olympiad

Jill.maroo@uni.edu, 319.273.5814