Here for Science, Stay for More

Authored by Blake Gerrits, Sarah Johnson and Jackie Barba; students in Assistant Professor Kate Edenborg’s class in the professional communications and emerging media program.

Menomonie is not Miami and with the University of Wisconsin-Stout hosting the Science Olympiad National Tournament, those traveling to Menomonie are wondering, what is there to do?

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Although Menomonie is a small town, there are ample opportunities to enjoy the spring season and Wisconsin culture. For students, teachers and families participating in and attending the Science Olympiad National Tournament, there are a variety of attractions in the Menomonie area.

For cost-effective activities, Menomonie has many options. It’s highly advised that you take advantage of the scenic beauty that surrounds Menomonie and makes it unique.

Christopher Freeman, UW-Stout professor, family man, and Menomonie resident; says exploring the natural sights in the area is a must, and if you can bike it- even better.

“Biking and walking on the Red Cedar with my family is one of my great joys. Biking in the hills of Dunn County is a close second. It is so beautiful here, it is like cycling in rural France except folks speak English,” exclaimed Freeman.


The Red Cedar Trail is a fun time for those who enjoy walking, running or biking in nature.

“Within a few blocks of campus, is the Red Cedar trail,” explained Grady Richartz, UW-Stout director of the Campus Card Office and long-time Menomonie resident.

For those wanting something even more scenic and adventurous, try Hoffman Hills. Hoffman Hills offers paths that weave throughout the woods, with varying levels of difficulty. You can make your way to the lookout and see for miles.

“Hoffman Hills is a great thing to do, although it is a little farther out,” said Grady Richartz.

Megan Klatt, UW-Stout student and resident of Menomonie recommends visiting Wakanda Park for a little adventure. There you can visit the animal park, where they have buffalo, deer and elk, for your viewing and possibly petting pleasure.


Devil’s Punch Bowl is a must see. This large hole eroded from water flow over many, many years has exposed the layers of earth beneath the surface, creating natural formations within the rock. You can go down into the base of the “bowl” and explore.

If the great outdoors isn’t your thing, some other activities that take you indoors are tours of the Louis Smith Tainter House and the Mabel Tainter Theater.

The Louis Smith Tainter House was built in 1891 and is now home to the UW-Stout Alumni Association and Foundation. The Mabel Tainter Theater was built by the same architect as the Louis Smith Tainter house and is a site to see. The theater was featured by CNN and you can see the article here. Both tours are free.

Some attractions that may cost a little are the Russell J. Rassbach Heritage Museum and Wilson Place Museum.

Klatt recommends the Russell J. Rassbach Heritage Museum to students and families as it is close to Wakanda Park and the animal park.

Also, Freeman recommends the Wilson Place Museum with tickets costing very little at five dollars a person, with prices varying for students and children.

“Wilson House is a must see for everyone in and around the city and a visit can really connect you to the stories of our community,” said Freeman.

After seeing the sites of Menomonie, go in search of refreshing drinks and delicious dining and you can be sure to find a wide variety of foods in the town of Menomonie.

“Go to Acoustic Café – it is, in my opinion, one of the best restaurants we have downtown. It has a relaxed atmosphere and the food is delicious,” exclaimed Klatt.

Unique bites for every taste can be found; whether you want a sandwich and soup from Acoustic, Pho from Chia’s Market, or a burger from Waterfront or LogJam.Take2 lower banner

3M, Mayo Clinic and Xcel Energy Amongst Companies Making Science Tournament Possible

Authored by Hammers and Lafky; students of Assistant Professor Kate Edenborg’s ENGL 407: Seminar in Applied Journalism class in the professional communications and emerging media program.

In 2012, University of Wisconsin-Stout received approval to host the 2016 Science Olympiad National Tournament. Since then, Forrest Schultz, a professor and chair in the chemistry and physics department at UW-Stout, has been working with companies like 3M, Excel Energy, Mayo Clinic Health System and Harley Davidson; to create experiences for roughly 2,500 students from around the country that will engage them in different realms of science.


The 3M Stem Cube Challenge is one exhibit that will be showcased during the National Science Olympiad.

“[3M] is going to bring in a 20 foot by 40 foot tent and creating a big video wall that will  create a game show experience, asking questions about a lot of 3M products.” Schultz said.

The students will be in their teams, gaining points for the questions they get right and those points could translate into money, which they get to donate to whatever charity they select.

Mayo Clinic Health System will be talking about technological advances in the medical industry and Harley Davidson will bring in a stationary motorcycle, which will allow students to virtually ride a motorcycle.

Xcel Energy will teach students about alternative energy; specifically wind energy since the tournament will be run solely off wind energy all weekend.

Science Olympiad faculty members will take students into the community to show students life in Wisconsin.

“As I was talking to teens I was noticing they were saying ‘we want to see the cows, we want to eat deep fried cheese curds, etc.’ ” says Schultz.

They plan on taking them to local farms, Devil’s Punch Bowl, Cedar Falls Dam and other local environmental sites.

The variety of activities are aimed at creating a welcoming, yet educational atmosphere for students to participate in.

Schultz said the campaign they’ve created called, “I Am, We Will”, is a way to let students express themselves with short video clips and then have them all come together to say “Look at all of our talent, now what can we do?”

The Science Olympiad National Tournament will consist of 120 teams, 60 high schools and 60 middle schools each with teams of 15 plus alternates; all of which will be at UW-Stout May 18 through 21.Take2 lower banner

What Does a Scientist Look Like?

Authored by Alex Pasquale and Audrey Wood; students in Assistant Professor Kate Endenborg’s ENGL 407: Seminar in Applied Journalism class in the professional communications and emerging media program.

Through two very distinct and powerful wardrobe pieces, Dr. Jo Hopp, University of Wisconsin–Stout’s professor of physics and chemistry; hopes to inspire the Science Olympiad participants by sending the message that anyone can be a scientist.

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Professor Jo Hopp working with students in the Oculomotor physics lab

Students work in various CSTEM labs in Jarvis Hall Science Wing Tuesday, December 9, 2014. Pictured are students working with Jo Hopp in the Oculomotor physics lab. (UW-Stout photo by Brett T. Roseman)

Breaking away from the “stereotypical” white lab coat and over-sized spectacles, Dr. Jo Hopp is showcasing the person behind the scientist. Her exuberant personality and powerful femininity will be displayed as she emcees the 2016 Science Olympiad National Tournament held at UW–Stout May 18-21.

Dr. Jo Hopp will be showcasing a powerful message that connects the Aurora Borealis theme to the participants attending the competition.

“We want to show all these kids that you can be anybody and be a powerful scientist,” said Hopp.

One of the ways this message will be portrayed will be through Hopp’s wardrobe.  Hopp has been working closely with UW–Stout apparel design sophomore, Leslie Berlin; freshman, Ali Schachtner; and sophomore, Megan Bartylla; to combine her scientific interests with the celebratory nature of the event.


Alex Schachtner, apparel department lab assistant

“We are going to try and simulate a brain synapse- like the light moving from one point to another,” explained Berlin. “Dr. Hopp is a neuroscientist, so we are incorporating her background into the garment.”

The apparel design team wanted to also encapsulate Hopp’s overall message through the garments.  Hopp said, “I wanted to show both the feminine side of science and the strength of a woman scientist.”

In order to do this, the apparel design team has to take comfort, mobility, breath-ability and the way the clothing interacts with the audience into consideration.  “We’ve done a lot of research on different kinds of fabrics,” explained Bartylla. “A lot of hunting for fabrics that would work and be comfortable for her.” 

The apparel design team has done countless iterations of the garments to try and balance style and comfort. “What they have to think of is the same scientific process I do when I do an experiment,” said Hopp.

Hopp will be the perfect emcee in the event, as she plans to create an exciting introduction for the Science Olympiad National Tournament; diminishing the tension or nerves that some contestants may have going into the challenge.

She will commence the event by emphasizing the fun nature of the competition.“This opening ceremony celebrates [the competitors] and how exciting this is for them to have succeeded in their passion,” explained Hopp.

She emphasized how much of an impact clothing can have on an event, especially one such as the Science Olympiad; of which is extremely audience driven.


While Hopp’s opening ceremony outfit will be interacting with the audience in a celebratory manner, Hopp hopes to convey a different message in her closing ceremony outfit.  The closing ceremony will have a red carpet feel, acknowledging the hard work that the students put into the competition.  “You deserve to be honored in this very formal way because it is a very prestigious achievement,” she said.

Hopp and the apparel design team’s talents, coupled with the Aurora Borealis theme, will clearly show the message that anyone can be a scientist.Take2 lower banner

Dining Services and University Housing Seek New Strategy for Science Olympiad

Authored by Jake Guyer and Malachi David; students of Assistant Professor Kate Edenborg’s ENGL 407: Seminar in Applied Journalism class in the professional communications and emerging media program.

The University of Wisconsin-Stout prides itself on being one of the top polytechnic universities in the Midwest, so it makes sense that they were awarded the opportunity to host the Science Olympiad National Tournament starting May 18.


However, preparing to host the estimated 7,000-plus people is no small task. Dining Services actually began plans to prepare food for all the participants over a year and a half ago.

“Meeting the dining service needs of a group this large on our campus is challenging,” said Dining Services Director Ann Thies. “The team has been planning for over 18 months and included a trip to last year’s conference to observe the needs, customer flow, and special issues we may need to address.”


Thies added that while Dining Services is used to serving 2,500-plus students three meals each day, the Science Olympiad meals will be different since time periods are shorter and no one will be taking their food out in food containers like many students at UW-Stout do.

“This will call upon all areas to be the most efficient they can be,” said Thies. “The menu has been simplified to assure quick choices and movement and ease of service to keep speed of service at its fastest pace possible. We will have a separate station that will be designated for special diet requirements.”

University Housing has its own preparations before they are ready to house that many people. Scott Harvey, a custodian on campus, said he is anticipating a lot of help to be coming from Housing staff.



“Luckily for us, the resident advisors and other housing student staff do a lot at the end of each school year anyway,” Harvey said. “They clean everything out and reset the rooms, and they’ll probably be giving us a hand with some of the heavy moving as well.”

While both departments are hoping for the best, they’ll also have to plan for the worst.

“Speed of service and the pace of service to assure adequate seating for each time frame of the meal period and getting everyone through in time to be at their next assigned event,” said Thies, when asked what her biggest concern was. “The learning curve is big and the time frame to learn small as far as how to navigate the cafeteria.”DSC00001

Harvey added that with all the people expected to come through the dorms, there’s bound to be some messes to clean up.

“We’re just getting ready for anything the kids can pull off,” he said jokingly. “Since they’re younger and probably not used to this kind of setting, we might see a few (messes) or things of that sort. They’re smart kids though, obviously, seeing as they’re competing in such an acclaimed competition, so I’m not anticipating any huge trouble.”Take2 lower banner




Apparel Students Make Garment Contributions for Science Olympiad

Authored by Matthew Gundrum, Jordan Rasmussen, Brittany Gunderson and Jake Smith; students in Assistant Professor Kate Edenborg’s ENGL 407: Seminar in Applied Journalism class in the professional communications and emerging media program.

There seems to be a recurring theme in the Science Olympiad’s mission: to physically manifest the concept of science. The activities at this event are offered by the organization to get young scholars around the country invested in problem solving, analytics, and innovative thinking.

However, the students involved in the competition are not the only ones learning.

Enter the UW-Stout Apparel and Communication Technologies Department. In preparation for the Olympiad, the program is creating three specialized garment types for the emcee, judges, and volunteers. Throughout this entire process there exists a crucial, interwoven thread of prime educational value that connects the students involved.

The project is extensive and many students over the course of multiple semesters have contributed.

“Eighteen students are working on it currently, and approximately sixty people have touched it throughout three semesters,” said Sheri Marnell, an adjunct UW-Stout apparel professor.


“The first [garment] is the vest which is being worn by the volunteers,” said Leslie Berlin, a UW–Stout sophomore in the apparel program. These vests are being created in Berlin’s garment engineering class, which is taught by Marnell. This class focuses merely on the production aspects of the vests as they were designed by previous students.

“We are basically simulating a manufacturing plant. So every person in the class holds a different position in the facility and it takes place in our lab in Fryklund [Hall]. So for example, I’m pressing manager, so whenever the garment gets to a point where it needs to be pressed it’s my job to do that,” said Berlin.


Berlin has also been involved with the creation of the black lab coats for judges in another class titled Specification and Fit Development.

“We had to develop a sizing chart to go off of and then we did all of the grading,” said Berlin, in reference to the lab coats. Grading is a process of systematically increasing or decreasing a particular garment to meet a desired fit. “So we are sewing all of the coats once we find a grade that fits all of our models,” she said.

In addition to the lab coats and vests, a third, more complex set of garments are being made.

Sophomore Megan Bartylla, an apparel design student at UW-Stout, is currently on the research team creating the two, Aurora Borealis-inspired dresses for the emcee. Both Bartylla and the research team, of which Berlin is also a part of, have put forth a great deal of scrutiny towards the science behind the dress.


“We have chosen fabrics for compression [purposes] that have cooling and wicking properties.  We have also taken into consideration the fiber dye-ability needed to create our planned dress,” said Bartylla.  The dresses will also have illumination abilities that add an entirely new element to the design process. “Different electrical components such as LED lights and sensors with coding will be added as well,” she said.

The emcee dresses, which will be worn by associate professor of science Judy Hopp for the opening and closing ceremonies, have undergone an extensive labor process.

“We’ve literally been working on two dresses since September. That’s thousands [of hours]. One of the dresses could go for $7,000 to $8,000,” said apparel design program director Gindy Neidermeyer. She added that the dresses will be made of a mermaid fabric that will allow for changes of color when subjected to touch and light.

The dresses were originally conceptualized in Neidermeyer’s functional design class. However, the class struggled to find approval for the designs. To find a stronger concept, Neidermeyer brought in her personal research team comprising of Berlin, Bartylla, and two other students. Following an intensive research process, the team was finally able to reach what is currently the unique concept for both dresses.


“It’s a big learning curve,” said Neidermeyer. “There’s lots of errors, lots of taking out seams, and lots of reanalyzing where production issues arise.”

But developing these garments for the National Olympiad provides an immensely valuable opportunity for the students.

“The one thing that they don’t often get is real client [experience]. Lot of times in college it’s the dream and vision of the designer but no real necessary reason to change their mind about why they did something,” said Neidermeyer. “But when they work for a client and the client says ‘Hm, not so sure,’ you really got to figure out how to make it right.”

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5 Things You Need to Know About the Science Olympiad National Tournament Coming to Menomonie this May

Authored by Olivia Ness, and Rachel Hallgrimson; students in Assistant Professor Kate Edenborg’s ENGL 407: Seminar in Applied Journalism class in the professional communications and emerging media program.

Video games. Designer apparel. You guessed it, UW-Stout is at it again with their ‘polytechnic’ edge.

If you know about UW-Stout’s ‘polytechnic’ promise, you know that the university takes it seriously. One piece of proof is that campus will be hosting the Science Olympiad National Tournament on campus this spring, from May 18 through 21. This is a pretty big deal. The UW-Stout campus will be crawling with a smart, young generation that loves science.

People of Menomonie, don’t fret. Just because it’s a national event doesn’t mean the community can’t be a part of it. Certainly the community is ‘owed one’ because of the added traffic during those five days.

For those who are curious about how UW-Stout will be involved in the event, here are five interesting facts about the National Science Olympiad Tournament that every community member of Menomonie should know about.

1.) People of all ages can come to the tournament. There won’t only be thousands of high schoolers wreaking havoc on Menomonie for nearly a week. There are parents and family members, too. Of course, these families will become stir crazy staying on campus, so they’ll be checking out Wakanda Park, the Mabel Tainter Theater, and more. Look out for crowds of people wandering around town that weekend. We all know they’ll also check out the antique stores. 12274284_1061245453918055_7392273000898420679_n

2.) Move over World of Warcraft, Science Olympiad is stepping up their game, and UW-Stout game design students are helping. UW-Stout has one of the best game design programs in the country, and is making a game titled, “Game On!,” in which the competitors will need to solve a problem, then fix it by programs in the game.12417648_10154600271539741_6805162893265254030_n

3.) All of the judges for the Science Olympiad National Tournament bridge event are from the beautiful state of Wisconsin. These Wisconsinites travel to a different state every year in order to judge and provide feedback to participating teams on how to better their design for the event.

4.) School’s out for the summer! This year many UW-Stout students wondered why the spring semester ends the first week of May, which is relatively early compared to past years. The early summer release is because of the lengthy prep time to turn over the dining hall and dorm buildings in preparation for the tournament. dsc000011

5.) The opening and closing ceremonies will feature outfits created by University of Wisconsin-Stout apparel design students. Judy J Hopp, an Associate Professor of Science and the emcee of the Science Olympiad, will wear two outfits created by a group of apparel students. Hopp’s wish for the outfits is for them to portray both the feminine side of science, and the strength of a woman scientist. The production for the dresses started in September and will feature LED lights and sensors with coding, as well as a mermaid fabric that changes when exposed to light and touch.

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Judges Mentor Olympiad Competitors

Authored by Dan Lea, student in Assistant Professor Kate Edenborg’s ENGL 407: Seminar in Applied Journalism class in the professional communications and emerging media program.

When more than 2,000 high school and middle school students head home from the Science Olympiad National Tournament, to be held at the University of Wisconsin-Stout May 18 through 21; some will be toting trophies, but all will leave with a little more knowledge. The judges of the 39 events won’t just enforce the rules, they’ll also make sure the teams learn something from the experience.

“The real value, we think, is the teachable moment,” said Greg Marconnet, event supervisor for the Olympiad’s bridge event. Marconnet oversees the event at both the national tournament and the Wisconsin state tournament, which was held at UW-Stout on April 2. His Wisconsin-based team’s efficient routine has put them in high demand for Science Olympiad events throughout the year.


In the bridge event, each team builds a bridge structure from which a bucket is then suspended. Sand is poured into the bucket until the bridge fails or the maximum weight of 15 kilograms has been reached. The team’s score for the event is calculated by dividing the weight held by the weight of the bridge. The goal is to build the lightest bridge that will hold the most weight. After the test, Marconnet and the other judges help the students review what went right and what didn’t.

“You just broke your bridge, and you’re really wondering why,” said Marconnet, who works as an engineer for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After Marconnet guides the teams through the testing process, he sends them to see Steve Dean of Chippewa Falls, who shows them a video of their bridge in action.

“We can actually watch the devices fail in slow motion,” said Dean, who, in his day job, is chief engineer at SGI, a computer company in Chippewa Falls.

“It enables the kids to see the first point of failure,” Dean said. “That usually tells them where the weak spot in the bridge was and it’s the critical thing for them to learn how to change or adjust their design for the future.” Working at a few regional tournaments each year, plus the state and national tournaments, Dean sees some teams several times a year over the course of their entire middle and high school careers.Olympiad-Marconnet1

“It’s really amazing to see how they learn and what they’re capable of doing over time,” Dean said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

It will be a shorter trip than usual for Marconnet, Dean and the rest of their crew, now in their sixth year of judging the bridge event. They usually have to travel to another state for the national tournament.

The judging team is a family affair, including three married couples. Greg’s wife, Donna, downloads and edits the high-speed videos, which are used both for review and to entertain spectators on large video screens. Steve’s wife, Carol, checks students in and makes sure the structures are compliant with the rules. Kelley Owen of Menomonie also checks students in, while her husband, Jack, runs a second test table. Mike Scott, another SGI engineer, has joined in this year to help critique the teams and speed the process along.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that a team of engineers functions like a well-oiled machine.

If you think a Science Olympiad wouldn’t make much of a spectator event, UW-Stout Biology Chair, Dr. Steven Nold, says you should think again.

“There are a lot of the build events that are very much worth going to,” said Nold, who served as tournament director for the state event. “They fly airplanes, they build cars, they launch projectiles…a really fun bunch of things to see. I highly recommend coming to UW-Stout to see it.”Science_Olympiad_01

It takes around 250 volunteers to put on the Science Olympiad tournament. Nold said the national tournament is usually held at a much larger, prestigious research university. He said the credit for attracting the major event to UW-Stout should go to chemistry professor Forrest Schultz, who will serve as national tournament director.

“It’s a huge honor and a privilege to be able to offer this here at our school,” Nold said. “It’s just a huge feather in our cap.” 

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