Hundreds of the nation’s most promising science students from all 50 states will be at UCF for the Science Olympiad National Tournament on May 18-19. The top winners of the competition will be offered scholarships to attend UCF and continue their scientific studies.

The competition, a culmination of a  yearlong contest involving hundreds of teams, is among the nation’s most prestigious science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions. The national tournament brings together the winning middle school and high school teams, educators and their families.

“We are excited to have some of the brightest young minds in the country visiting UCF for the Science Olympiad National Tournament,” said Al Harms, vice president for Strategy, Marketing, Communications and Admissions at UCF. “These young students may one day change the world by curing diseases, creating alternative fuels or developing new technologies. That is why we are thrilled to offer ‘gold winners’ scholarships to UCF, where they will have the opportunity to turn their dreams into reality.”

Every high school team member who places Gold in the competition will be eligible for the scholarships. The four-year scholarships are worth $16,000 for in-state students and $30,000 for out-of-state students who meet all admission requirements and enroll.  That’s $4,000 for each of their four years for Florida students and $7,500 for those who are not state residents.

The community is welcome to see some of the teams compete Saturday, May 19. The event is free and gives people the opportunity to watch some of these young minds at work.

Teams will compete in challenges such as: Helicopters, a flight-endurance contest powered by rubber-band engines; Storm the Castle, a precision catapult exercise; Mission Possible, a Rube Goldberg device using energy transfers to complete a task; and Gravity Vehicle, a test of a car’s speed, estimation and accuracy.

The Army ROTC Aviation Adventure Semi and the Air Force Command Center Alpha will be in Parking Lot D2 during the tournament. These interactive exhibits showcase the science behind each branch of the military, complete with flight simulators, technology displays, digital downloads and an F-16 Air Force fighter jet. Check out the lineup of events at:

Representing Florida Science Olympiad are Orlando Science Middle School, Archimedean Upper Conservatory in Miami, Archimedean Middle Conservatory in Miami, and Boca Raton Community High School in Boca Raton.

Aside from recognition, awards and scholarships, past champion teams have been invited to Washington, D.C., for President Obama’s White House Science Fair.

Science Olympiad is a Chicago-area-based national nonprofit organization founded in 1984. It is dedicated to improving the quality of K-12 STEM education, increasing student interest in science, creating a technologically literate workforce and providing recognition for outstanding achievement by both students and teachers. Nearly 200,000 students on 6,400 teams from all 50 states competed in 350 regional, state and national Science Olympiad tournaments last year.