Jim Looney: Science educator extraordinaire

I’m happy to share good this news, offered by Dr. Karen Zumbrunn. Karen – and Jim and Anna Looney -are good friends of mine at Princeton United Methodist church. Congratulations to all involved in this exciting project, and good luck in Wisconsin! 

looney london

For the second year in a row, the Science Olympiad team at West Windsor-Plainsboro North High School will represent New Jersey at the National Science Olympiad to be held May 19 to 21 at the University of Wisconsin-(Stout campus) in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

The team is coached by Dr. Jim Looney, who has taught in the West Windsor-Plainsboro system since 1999. He was recently named Teacher of the Year by his colleagues at WW-P North.

From a pool of 60-70 students two teams of 18 members each are selected. For the state competition each school can bring only one team to compete. For the nationals 15 members and 7 alternates are selected. During the year the teams went to invitational tournaments in CT, PA, NJ, NY and also prepared at the local public library and in each other’s homes.

The Science Olympiad has 25 events in all aspects of Science.  Some events are tests, such as Disease Detective, and Dynamic Planet. Other events, such as Forensics, Anatomy, Fossils, have a lab component. Still others require building a device, such as a Robot Arm or Protein Modeling. Participants can win individual medals; the team score is based on the total score from all events.

At the national tournament the WW-PN team will meet teams from all over the country and have challenges at a high level of competition. The Science Olympiad provides opportunities to develop leadership skills and learn the value of teamwork.

“As a coach, I am responsible for the tests, team selection, mentoring and organization” says Looney, but he credits physics teacher Regina Celin, biology teacher Holly Crochetiere, and chemistry teacher Kerry Pross, who are indispensable help in organizing, coaching and attending competitions. Looney acknowledges, “Coaching is such a time and labor-intensive job that it would be impossible to do all we do without their help” and assistance of other faculty as well as supportive parents. He himself brings extensive science experience in laboratory work in molecular biology in both commercial, medical  and academic contexts. He holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology and genetics from Columbia University.

Dr. Looney is active at Princeton United Methodist Church. For several years he went with church youth for an Appalachian service project. He has served  as president of the United Methodist Men’s Group. He is married to Dr. Anna Looney, an assistant professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. They have one child, Emily, a family physician who lives in the Pacific Northwest and is completing a fellowship in hospice and palliative care.

Science Olympiad team North

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