Grand Valley hosts Science Olympiad with Muskegon teams


Photo courtesy of Grand Valley RMSC

by Cynthia Price

The Science Olympiad is a tough competition that shapes and encourages students who have an interest in pursuing careers in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) fields.

Last Saturday marked the 34th year that the Regional Math and Science Center has hosted the Science Olympiad for this area. And this year, due to some scheduling problems with the usual host, Muskegon teams competed in the GVSU event.

The Muskegon County teams were from Reeths Puffer Middle School, Ravenna High School, and West Michigan Christian High School.

Though Muskegon does have a Regional Math and Science Center (which was originally a hub of the Grand Valley RMSC), it does not host an Olympiad on its own. Alma College, which is the normal venue, was unable to accommodate the Olympiad this year.

Grand Valley has been serving the needs of area K-12 schools for several decades and the RMSC was established in 1994. Interestingly, this was accomplished in part through the auspices of former Dean of Math and Science Doug Kindschi, who was also instrumental in creating the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center in Muskegon (now the Muskegon Innovation Hub).

The Center is one of a statewide network, and the Grand Valley region, under the direction of Kristofer Pachla, collaborates with the K-12 and higher education communities, informal science and governmental organizations, and business and industry to coordinate science and mathematics outreach activities in the West Michigan area.

As such, it performs all the necessary tasks for the intimidatingly large Science Olympiad, which this year drew over 1200 students.

But that is not all the GVRMSC does. They also run Super Science Saturday and offer professional teacher learning opportunities, focusing in such areas as health and sustainable/renewable energy.

Perhaps one of the biggest program areas for the Center is in running a variety of specific, and specifically-targeted, science camps. Though there is always inclusion of the more academic aspects of science, Pachla says that there is an increasing emphasis on practical application and learning about engineering.

This year the Energizing Our World camp, for middle school students, will have that more practical focus. “We’re taking  a field trip to the Holland Energy Park and asking the students to explore what it means for them to make a lower carbon footprint. They’ll be asked to think about ways to redesign their homes, and on the last day, they’ll present their ideas,” explains Pachla.

The RMSC’s normal coverage area is Kent, Muskegon and Montcalm counties, but some services are offered elsewhere, including in Holland (Ottawa County).

For more on the Center, visit

The Muskegon teams did not make it into the finalist roster for those who compete at the state level. The winning teams, which face both individual and team challenges, were:

High schools (9): Grand Haven, Forest Hills Central, West Ottawa, Allendale, Grand Rapids Christian, Plymouth Christian, Forest Hills Northern, Wyoming and West Michigan Aviation Academy. Middle schools (13):  Lakeshore, Allendale, Chandler Woods Charter Academy, White Pines Intermediate, Plymouth Christian, Northern Hills, East Grand Rapids, Harbor Lights, Macatawa Bay, Riley Street, Grandville, Forest Hills Central and Zion Christian Middle School  (Alternate).

More information about the Michigan Science Olympiad can be found at