1997 vs 2020 National Science Olympiad
It was the Spring of 1997, the season finale of Seinfeld just aired, Tony Blair was elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and North Carolina Science Olympiad hosted Nationals for the first time.
Back in the day...
The '97 tournament, at first glance, doesn't look all that different from the most recent National Tournaments. Even some of the people are the same. But, on closer inspection there are shining examples that call back to the Dot Com Decade. For example, there is a letter from President Bill Clinton congratulating competitors on making it to Nationals. The interior of the program is in black and white. Tournament staff are rocking classic nineties hairdos.
Most amusingly, there is a trial event called Surfing the Net. The test features questions such as, "Sandy Horace Love was granted a patent in 1993 for what sort of a machine?" This of course was before Google or any other search engine existed. No other event better exemplifies the rapid change in technological advancement in the last twenty-three years.
"By challenging your thinking skills, creativity, and teamwork, the National Science Olympiad Tournament is preparing you for the great adventure of life in the twenty-first century." -President Bill Clinton
Then vs. Now
Since 1997, NC Science Olympiad has grown rapidly both in teams, coaches, volunteers, and staff. In 1997, NCSO only had 250 teams, today there are approximately 1,000 teams. Then, there were only eight regionals and no elementary tournaments. Now, there are thirty-eight regional tournaments, twenty of which are Division A (elementary), Then, NCSO was the fourth largest Science Olympiad program in the country,
Now it is the second largest. What has led to the rapid growth in the North Carolina program? The progress in recent years is due in large part to the 1997 National Tournament being hosted at NC State University.
Home of NC Science Olympiad
When Nationals came to NC State in 1997 it created a wave of enthusiasm and support at the university. Then Chancellor Marye Ann Fox was so inspired by the National events that she pushed for the continued support of NCSO. Her proposal? Hosting the State Tournament at NC State the following year.
NC State's support grew from there. NCSO officially joined The Science House, a department at NC State dedicated to developing the STEM workforce of tomorrow, not long after the National Tournament. NC State has been the official home of NC Science Olympiad ever since.
The 1997 National Tournament and the partnerships formed from it has been the primary force that has driven the rapid growth at NC Science Olympiad.
The 2020 Tournament has likewise created new partnerships in business, at NC State University, and the local community. NC Science Olympiad will benefit from these new partnerships. Such renewed energy will no doubt lead to growth and support for the program.