By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend
One of the Science Olympiad’s stated goals is “to create a passion for learning science.” If the organization is looking for an ambassador, it need not look any further than Gary Fye.
Fye, a first-year Biomedical Engineering major at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, was a volunteer judge at the regional Science Olympiad held at Behrend this March.
More than 400 students from thirty-three area school districts competed in forty-six science-related events. Among the participating schools was North Clarion High School, which happens to be Fye’s high school alma mater.
From grades seven through twelve, Fye participated in the Science Olympiad. In fact, he took first place in at least one event every year but ninth grade.
“The time just never seemed to last long enough,” Fye said. “It was something I really, really enjoyed.”
That enjoyment is still present today. Although Fye was at home in Leeper, Pa., for spring break, he traveled on a bus with his former high school just so he could volunteer his time at the Science Olympiad.
Experimental Design, the event Fye judged, had participants experiment with a springboard and then propose a hypothesis based on that experiment. Experiments like this are what helped pique Fye’s interest in science and engineering years ago.
“It broadens your horizons. You really get a feel for lab work,” he said.
After attending his first Science Olympiad, Fye’s interest in science only grew. In middle school and early high school, he was appropriately nicknamed “Gary Fye the Science Guy.” The name referred to Fye’s love of science, but it was also a word play on Bill Nye, who was the host of the popular PBS children’s show “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” Fye also happened to be a big fan of Nye, which made the nickname an even better fit.
The Science Olympiad influenced Fye in another way as well. The event exposed him to Penn State Behrend.
“I would actually put that as one of the number one reasons as to why I’m here at Behrend,” Fye said. “It definitely introduced me to engineering concepts.”
So far, Behrend has been a good fit.
Earlier this winter, Nye visited Behrend as part of the college’s Speaker Series. Given his natural love of science and interest in the Science Guy, Fye was more than a little excited when he heard the news.
“I sat in the front row,” he said with a smile.