Illinois high school students battle with brains

wyseProving once and for all that it’s cool to be brainy, more than 500 Illinois students gathered March 6 on the NIU campus to compete in math and science.

NIU’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology (CEET) hosted the 2014 Worldwide Youth Science and Engineering (WYSE) Academic Challenge Sectional.

The competition ranks high schools based upon individual and team test scores. Students are required to take a total of seven tests regarding various subject matters.

According to a representative from WYSE, the Academic Challenge aims to familiarize high school students with the course content and the level of competition they will experience once entering a science and engineering curriculum at the university level.

Promod Vohra, dean of the college, is always excited to host prominent Illinois students.

“It is great to see so many students eager to test their skills in math and science,” Vohra said. “The event grows each year and demonstrates that our work to get more students interested in STEM is working.”

WYSE logoThe WYSE Academic Challenge consists of three testing events that increase with difficulty. The battle of brain power begins at the regional level, continues to a sectional level, and finally, qualifying teams advance to a state competition. Advancing teams will compete in the 2014 WYSE State Final Competition at the WYSE headquarters at the University of Illinois (U of I).

The event was planned by Mia Hannon, site coordinator and CEET business manager. “The challenge programs present test material from senior high school and freshmen level college curricula written by teams of college and university faculty,” Hannon said. “The subject matter for each test includes biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering graphics, English, mathematics and physics.

Hannon, who has coordinated the event for 17 years, said the award ceremony is always her favorite part.

“The award ceremony makes all the planning and organizing worth it,” she said. “The students get so excited, and to see the smiles on their faces is the best part.”

According to WYSE, participants compete as individuals and as part of a team, fielded by their school. Students have 40 minutes to complete the tests. Depending on the subject matter, these tests can range from 30 to 100 multiple-choice questions.

Local participants from Sycamore High School received an overall team score of 471.4 out of 500 in their division and are among the schools advancing to state.

The State Finals will take place from Monday, April 7, through Thursday, April 10, at the U of I campus in Urbana.

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