Science Olympiad builds Arizona’s STEM pipeline

April 30, 2019

On a recent sunny Saturday at Arizona State University, the Tempe campus was buzzing with middle and high schoolers in lab coats and goggles, sprinting between buildings and labs.

The students were taking part in the state competition of the Arizona Science Olympiad on April 6. This is the third year that the event has been held at ASU, showcasing science, technology, engineering and math fields as well as campus life to young students. ASU 2019 Arizona Science Olympiad student in goggles and lab coat Photo by Bryan Pietsch Download Full Image

A totoal of 66 teams from middle and high schools around the state competed in 23 events at the state competition. Winners will advance to the national competition in June at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The team from University High School in Tucson won the high school division, and the team from Paragon Science Academy in Chandler won the middle school division.

Reina Gomez, state director for Arizona Science Olympiad, said that the event is an opportunity for students who excel academically to get awards, medals and trophies that are usually awarded in athletic events.

She also said that having the event, presented with Access ASU, at the university allows the students to become familiar with the campus and college in general.

“They understand that, ‘Hey, I could go to ASU, I see other people there that look like me. They’re like me. They’re doing events that I like,’” Gomez said.

Events ranged from tests of academic knowledge — like identifying live reptile specimens — to physics and chemistry activities.

Nikita Kumari, a fourth-year PhD student at ASU studying biophysical chemistry, hopes to teach after graduation. She facilitated one of the chemistry activities where students tested the pH levels of household liquids like Sprite and mouthwash.

“It’s interesting because I get to see high school students excited about science, and that is fun for me,” Kumari said.

Students were all smiles at the herpetology activity that featured live snakes, geckos and tortoises.

Marshall Frank, an eighth grader from Prescott Valley, said that he likes the Olympiad because of the different events.

“No matter what field of science you’re into, there’s always something for you to do here,” Marshall said.

Lorenzo Chavez, assistant vice president for outreach at ASU said that the university is proud to have a legacy of presenting the event.

“ASU is excited to host the state science olympiad tournament for the third year in a row because the event exemplifies the innovation and creativity that the institution prides itself on,” Chavez said.

“The students attending are some of the best and brightest in the state of Arizona, and it is an honor to be part of this special day. As an institution that is dedicated to the Arizona community, we see our support for the event as an opportunity to connect participants to the university, faculty and staff.”

Hannah Moulton Belec

Marketing content specialist, Educational Outreach and Student Services


Peak performance: Gymnast makes her path at ASU, earns Pac-12 top academic honors

April 30, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

Anne Kuhm, who was recently named Pac-12 Women’s Gymnastics Scholar-Athlete of the Year, makes her final appearance in Wells Fargo Arena next week when she steps off of the gym mat and onto the stage to be recognized during the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts Convocation. ASU gymnast Anne Kuhm Anne Kuhm, who is graduating from ASU's College of Integrative Sciences and Arts with a liberal studies major, was named Pac-12 Women’s Gymnastics Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2018-2019. Photo by Pete Vander Stoep Download Full Image

For Kuhm, who is from Brumath, France, a visit to the desert made all the difference — not only for her studies (she’s graduating with a GPA above 4.0) but for the athletic possibilities.

“As soon as I landed in Phoenix and visited the campus, I knew I wanted to come study and practice here in Arizona,” said Kuhm, who began college in France but transferred to ASU as a junior to compete in the elite Pac-12 Conference. “I just fell in love with the beautiful campus and Arizona in general. Every person I met during my visit made me feel comfortable. I also knew that ASU had a lot of international students and that it would be a good place for me to improve my English skills. I just knew ASU was a good place for me — it felt like home since day one.”

At ASU, Kuhm found that the degree in liberal studies was the best fit for transferring in the range of coursework she had already completed in France, in business, management, economics and social sciences.

“But once I started this major I really enjoyed it, because it allowed me to take a lot of classes from different areas of studies as well as learn how to consider different perspectives when we think in today’s world,” she said.  

With a busy athletic training and school schedule, Kuhm found that being open-minded and stepping out of her comfort zone were important lessons that she learned — and that she’d advise those still in school to follow.

“Use the resources available and ask for help when needed,” she added.

“College can be hard at first, but everyone wants you to feel comfortable and wants you to have a good experience,” Kuhm said. “ASU has a lot of resources available for students to help them to be successful, not only while in college but also in life in general.”  

She recently shared with ASU Now some of the highlights of her ASU experience and dreams for the future.

Question: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

Answer: My favorite place on campus was the Carson Student-Athlete Center. I have spent a lot of time in this building the past two years. This place is amazing and has everything student-athletes need in order to succeed. It is a great place to study, get treatment, do conditioning and to meet friends. I have also met wonderful people at ICA (Inter-Collegiate Athletics) who are always there for athletes to offer help and support. I am really grateful for that.

Q: What are your plans after graduation? 

A: After graduation, I am going back to France to get a master’s in international hospitality management. In the future, I want to come back and work in a hotel in Arizona. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: One cause that is important to me is to limit global warming. Educating the world population about the alarming effects of human activities on our planet is an essential first step in limiting negative impacts on the environment. Small daily actions from each of us such as recycling, the limitation of waste, the use of public transportation would help limit negative impacts and thus protect our planet. Forty-million dollars would not solve this problem completely, but it would serve to educate people, develop alternatives to limit the damage on our planet and transmit a healthy planet to future generations.

Written by Imani Stephens, class of 2019, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication; student marketing assistant, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts