Union hosts annual STEP science bowl

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By Katie Ziemba

On Saturday, Feb. 11, Union hosted the STEP Regional Science Bowl for the third year. This regional competition is one of many that are held across the country as stepping-stones for the National Science Bowl.

STEP, which stands for the Science and Technology Entry Program, is sponsored by the New York State Department of Education and helps minority and low-income students in grades 7-12 achieve their dreams in the fields of science and technology.

The STEP program aims to give students access to laboratories for research training, hosts summer programs and prepares students for standardized tests and college.

The New York State Department of Education hopes that the STEP program will “increase the number of historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students prepared to enter college, and improve their participation rate in mathematics, science, technology, health related fields and the licensed professions.”

“Union College runs an academic year and a summer STEP program, serving over 50 local students,” explained Program Coordinator for the Kenney Community Center Janet Sweeney. “Union College students [also] serve as mentors for the program.”

For four Saturdays every trimester, Union works together with other area colleges to offer science and technology workshops and field trips to members of the STEP program. Students in the STEP program can also receive academic tutoring anytime they need it during the week.

The STEP Science Bowl featured 16 high school teams that competed for a chance to win an all-expense paid trip to the National Science Bowl.

Each team had five members and four members competed at a time. This year, Union’s STEP had two teams, which were coached by Zoralys Molina ‘13 and Son Nguyen ‘14.

“70 volunteers [were] helping run the day, mostly Union students and also a few faculty, staff and GE employees,” said Sweeney.

Those who volunteered attended training sessions beforehand in order to ensure that the day ran smoothly.

Congressman Paul Tonko, who attended the event last year, was also a part of this year’s program.

The day was split into two sections. In the morning, all 16 teams competed in round robin competition.

In the afternoon, the top eightteams progressed to elimination rounds and the other eight teams participated in a Challenge Round run by Union’s Society of Women Engineers.

The first place winner of the STEP Science Bowl was the Farmingdale STEP team from Long Island. Second place was awarded to the Lafayette STEP team. Union College STEP Team 2 won the Challenge Round and the Spirit Award was given to the RIT Tush Henrietta STEP team. The Farmingdale STEP team will now progress on to the National Science Bowl.

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