Science Olympiad a good
way to ‘love science’
By Karen McLean
SPEEA publications editor
In high school, SPEEA rea Rep Dennis Davaz s pent his
lunch hours with friends
in the physics lab – just
to experiment and play a
mock version of the quiz
That’s one reason why he
was thrilled when his son
was invited to participate
in the Science Olympiad
in junior high. Davaz
wanted to ‘play’ too, so
he signed up as a volunteer and hasn’t stopped
nearly 20 years later. He
currently volunteers as a
tournament event supervisor.
“You’re working with kids
who are already good
– and you’re helping to
make them better,” he said. “You’re getting kids
to love science and engineering and all that goes
The Washington Science Olympiad is one of
about 40 recipients of last year’s Northwest
Council grants related to science, technology,
engineering, and math (STEM).
A NW STEM grant helped to cover registration
fees for eight schools participating in last spring’s
Science Olympiad events. All eight schools indicated they are coming back and will cover their
own registration because they have seen the benefit firsthand, according to Sue Murphy, state
director for Science Olympiad.
For the Science Olympiad, small groups of
students choose to compete in different events
– ranging from chemistry, anatomy and entomology to air trajectory, bridge building and
crime busting. The students are judged, encouraged and recognized for their efforts.
“The energy in the auditorium, when they hear
who won the Olympiad, is like seeing the winning basket in the final seconds of a basketball
game – the place just comes apart,” said Davaz.
In fact, Davaz, who works in Quality Assurance
Investigations for the Fabrication Division in
Auburn, compares the Olympiad, and other
science-based after-school programs, to sports as
an opportunity for students to grow their skills.
“Science is a skill – you can pick it up but it takes
practice – and you have to want to practice,” he
said. The Olympiad gives students an outlet for
practicing that skill – “to flex those muscles.”
NW STEM grants due Aug. 15
Applications are due by Saturday, Aug. 15,
for the Northwest Council grants related to
science, technology, engineering and math
• Non-profit organization or institution
with a focus on STEM
• SPEEA member participating (as a
coach, mentor or parent)
• Northwest bargaining units (Puget
Sound and Spokane, Wash., Oregon,
The application form is online at www.
speea.org (see link for SPEEA Councils/
Forms and Petitions).
For more information about the STEM
grant program, see Northwest Policy VII:
Subsection B.4 – available at www.speea.org
(see link for SPEEA Councils/Governing
SPEEA is on
years of caring
Unless you have had a financial emergency, need a wheel chair ramp or can’t feed your family, you may not have heard of
the Puget Sound Labor Agency (PSLA).
Helping union members and the community
since 1975, this non-profit agency keeps a low
profile in the Seattle Labor Temple.
Twice a week, the PSLA food bank welcomes
those who need help putting food on the table.
Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline assist with
donations as well as union-sponsored food drives.
PSLA also operates Regional Access Mobility
Program (RAMP) with volunteers who build
ramps to make homes wheelchair accessible.
In addition PSLA manages emergency funds for
participating unions, including SPEEA Cares,
which is funded through union member donations.
SPEEA joined forces with PSLA during the
40-day strike of 2000. PSLA helped with disbursement of donations, including money, by
setting up a screening process and organizing the
food that was coming in from all over.
After the strike, the remaining donations became
the SPEEA Cares fund – which continues to
operate thanks to members’ direct donations
via the Employee Community Fund or Good
Neighbor Fund, for example.
SPEEA Cares can help any member in any
bargaining unit – or state. The screening process ensures the money is used to cover only
bills related to shelter (mortgage or utilities, for
example) in emergencies.
Like eating pancakes for breakfast on a Saturday?
Want to see if you can win cool prizes in a Labor
Day celebration raffle? Or just want to get discount tickets for a Seattle Sounders soccer game
when they play L.A. Galaxy in October? Check
out the details at www.speea.org (see link for
Amazon Smile – Amazon will donate 0.5%
of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases. To sign up, go to smile.amazon.com and
select Puget Sound Labor Agency AFL-CIO as
your favorite charitable organization.
Fred Meyer – Link your Fred Meyer Community
Rewards card to PSLA at www.fredmeyer.com/
communityrewards. You can search by name or
by the non-profit number 933350. Don’t have a
rewards card? Go to the Customer Service desk
at any Fred Meyer.
Dennis Davaz is shown here at the Canyon Park Junior High invitational for Science
Olympiad a few years ago. He’s judging an event called ‘Mission Possible.’ Brenda
Reyna, left, and Jada Jenkins, were students at the time at Mount Baker Middle
School, Auburn, Wash.