Notre Dame Hosts the Fighting Irish Science Olympiad

Author: Rebecca Hicks

Lake Central FISO Participants
Photo Credit: Deanna Ferrell

On Saturday, January 22, 2022, Notre Dame hosted over 200 students in 14 teams from schools across the region at the Fighting Irish Science Olympiad (FISO). Schools with participating teams included East Noble High School (IN), Frankfort High School (IN), John Adams High School (IN), Lake Central High School (IN), LaPorte High School (IN), Marian High School (IN), Munster High School (IN), Peru High School (IN), St. Ignatius High School (OH), and Whiting High School (IN). Emerging victorious in the overall competition at the end of the day was Munster High School, followed by Lake Central High School in second place, and John Adams High School in third place.

Whiting FISO Participants
Photo Credit: Deanna Ferrell

Science Olympiad is a national organization that sponsors competitions around the country to promote interest and develop excellence in STEM learning and critical thinking. Students’ knowledge is tested across all areas of science, including chemistry, biology, mathematics, anatomy, and technology. The Fighting Irish Science Olympiad included 23 events with subjects ranging from ornithology to forensics and also included building events where students designed and assembled gliders, bridges, cars and more. Competitions like this provide valuable opportunities for students to work toward a goal and showcase the results of their efforts.

Marian FISO Participants
Photo Credit: Deanna Ferrell

Successfully executing such a large event required the efforts of many volunteers. Led by faculty advisor Susan Del Valle, Assistant Teaching Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry, a team of seven undergraduate students, headed by sophomores Jin Rui Cai and Andrew Kim, organized the event. In addition, 30 undergraduates, 6 professors, and nationally renowned Science Olympiad event writer, Tom Sanders and his wife, served as event volunteers. “Working with the Notre Dame undergraduate students to bring the Science Olympiad to Notre Dame has been a wonderful and fun experience. Our undergraduates received many complements from the teachers who brought their students, and the FISO team is already looking forward to our next Invitational,” stated Del Valle.

In addition to the competition, Santiago Schnell, William K. Warren Foundation Dean of the College of Science, gave a keynote lecture, and Andrew Bartolini, Assistant Teaching Professor in the First Year Engineering Program, addressed the students. Undergraduate clubs from Notre Dame, including the Chemistry & Biochemistry Club, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute student chapter, the Engineering Leadership Council, the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, and the Notre Dame Rocketry Team provided demonstrations for the visiting students and their families. ND Energy and the St. Joseph Valley chapter of the American Chemical Society had informational displays available, and tours were conducted of the Innovation Lab and the Nuclear Physics Lab.

This event was proudly sponsored by the College of Science; the College of Engineering Edison Lecture Series; the Departments of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Physics, Applied and Computational Mathematics & Statistics, and Biological Sciences; the Glynn Family Honors Program; the Advanced Placement Teacher Investment Program; ND Energy; and Notre Dame Research.