More than 4,000 people are expected to come to town at the end of this week as part of the 2009 Science Olympiad National Tournament. High- and middle-schoolers from 46 states and the District of Columbia are converging on Augusta State University to compete in what's been described as an "academic track meet."
Competitors will display their grasp of scientific concepts in many ways, the simplest of which is straight testing. But there's a lot of fun involved, too. Students will have to use scientific methods to construct sturdy bridges, safely propel raw eggs with rocketry and even solve mysteries at mock crime scenes.
In past years, the Olympiad has been held at huge schools such as Ohio State University, Michigan State University and the University of Colorado. Before Augusta State earned the hosting honor this year, the only other Georgia school to play host to the competition has been Georgia Tech.
It's an honor that this event is coming to Augusta. But is it any surprise, really? The Augusta area has a distinguished pedigree in scientific fields. Some of the most important examples of the CSRA's vitality have been built and maintained for decades by science professionals.
Augusta's medical community is one of the strongest in the nation, yielding top-quality care and internationally recognized research. More recently we have the Medical College of Georgia Business Incubator and the Life Sciences Innovation Center -- designed to draw biotechnology beneficially from the research laboratory to the commercial sector.
Across the river, Savannah River Site holds a vital national scientific role in processing nuclear materials. And to pass on a fascination of science to future generations, there is the National Science Center's Fort Discovery on Augusta's Riverwalk, which has bee captivating children's attention and imagination for years.
Science and technology isn't just the future -- it's the present. And if America wants to maintain a competitive edge globally -- in education, trade and overall progress -- fostering an interest in science and stressing its importance is key.
Events such as this Olympiad go a long way in cultivating fertile young minds, and Augustans should be proud that the area is playing host to it.