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For more than 30 years, the L.A. County Science Olympiad has drawn thousands of students from across the region for the love of investigation and problem solving.

The 2017 competition was no exception, with 4,300 students from 222 schools participating on Feb. 18 at Antelope Valley College in Lancaster and March 4 at Occidental College in Eagle Rock.

Teams of students from grades 4 to 12 faced off in more than 60 events covering a wide variety of topics in engineering and life, physical and earth sciences.

"Science education is too often episodic and disjointed," said Gary Widdison, LACOE project director. "The beauty of the Olympiad is its focus on sustained engagement."

The teams become intimately involved in an engineering design challenge or science content topic over the course of several months, according to Widdison. But they may end up scrapping weeks of work to proceed in a new direction.

"This experience is authentic to the nature of science and engineering, and builds teamwork skills that are critical for workplace and career success," he added.

The top 12 teams in the middle and high school divisions advance to the state finals on April 8 at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and one could move on to the national finals May 19-20 at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

View results of the 2017 L.A. County Science Olympiad here. Learn more about the program here.

Photo 1: Students design, build and calibrate a tennis ball catapult.
Photo 2: Students demonstrate months of engineering design and revision as they test the load capacity of their bridges. 
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