PLEASANTON -- The world's next Einstein may be in Pleasanton this weekend as Foothill High School hosts the fifth annual Bay Area Science Olympiad.

The regional competition on Saturday is expected to draw more than 1,500 students from 42 Bay Area middle and high schools, mostly from the Peninsula and South Bay. Local schools in the Olympiad include Dougherty Valley High in San Ramon and Foothill and Amador Valley high schools and Hart and Harvest Park middle schools in Pleasanton. Students work in two-person teams to compete in 23 events covering biology, chemistry and physics at the all-day gathering.

"What I like about the events is that they're team-competition events," said Craig Kelso, a Foothill teacher and the event coordinator. "They have to make sure that during the school year, their teams are learning and preparing for the events. It takes a lot of coordination and leadership."

The Olympiad is truly driven by volunteers. The leader of each team that competes, typically a teacher, is responsible for coordinating one event. Roughly 300 teachers and parents help run events and support their teams throughout the day. Students on each team decide which two team members will compete in which events.


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Some events, such as lab experiments or exams, last just one hour. Other events, such as building a robotic arm or an elastic-launched glider, take all day. Students who win at the regional event advance to the state competition with hopes of making it to nationals.

"It gives academic kids a vehicle to compete that they wouldn't have in any other environment," Kelso said. "Individual science competitions are fine, but that only benefits the student in that competition. In the Science Olympiad, they learn how to cooperate and work with each other. They work toward a common goal."

The Bay Area Science Olympiad will be held at Foothill High School, 4375 Foothill Road, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Four events -- robot arm, elastic-launched glider, boom lever and magnetic levitation racetrack -- are open to the public. The awards ceremony at the end of the day, around 4:30 p.m., is also open to the public.

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