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Suburban students shine at Illinois Science Olympiad
By Ames Boykin | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 4/28/2008 12:03 AM

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They turned Dixie cups and tongue depressors into a tower, bridge or cantilever.

They identified the perpetrators by using paper chromatography and analysis of solids, liquids and plastics found at the scene of a crime.

But in the end, it was all about having fun.

It was science's turn to shine in Saturday's Illinois Science Olympiad, where many area students emerged victorious by competing in 23 events at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Of 38 high school teams and 39 middle school teams, the top two from each category with the highest overall scores from the events will travel to the national contest in Washington, D.C., in late May.

In the AA division, Naperville Central High School won second place behind first-place New Trier High School in Winnetka, qualifying for the national tournament. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire (third place) and Buffalo Grove High School (fourth) also finished strong.

Grayslake Central High School took first place in the A division, while Benet Academy in Lisle won second at the state tournament.

South Middle School in Arlington Heights won first place in the AA division Saturday, earning a trip to the national tournament. Kennedy Junior High in Naperville took second -- also earning a spot at nationals.

Mead Junior High in Elk Grove Village (first place), Lisle Junior High (second) and Highland Middle School in Libertyville (third) won in their division.

There were hundreds of medals awarded in individual events, too.

"Almost every school went home with a medal this year. That's our goal: to have every team go home with a medal," said Joe Simmons, a co-director of the annual event who teaches at College of DuPage.

The other mission of the competition, Simmons explained, is to get students interested in science by making it fun.

"We get kids that normally wouldn't choose science as a career to actually go into science," he said.

For more information about the contest, visit