Coaches' Clinic 2023

Thank you for coming!

THANK YOU for attending the 2023 Coaches’s Clinic! THANKS for spending your Saturday doing such awesome work and learning with us today 🤗 This Science Olympiad family of ours is special and meaningful for so many reasons… we are so glad YOU’RE a part of it! We look forward to seeing you next year!


    What is the Great Lakes Coaches' Clinic?

    The goal of the clinic is to help Science Olympiad coaches learn how to prepare their teams for this year’s competitions.

    Who should attend the Great Lakes Coaches' Clinic?

    The GLCC is meant for coaches of every level, and we invite coaches from across the country to attend. The GLCC has sessions for coaches at every level of experience!

    Who are the presenters at the Great Lakes Coaches' Clinic?

    We have National Rules Committee Chairs, National Event Supervisors, State Event Supervisors, Regional Event Supervisors and veteran coaches as presenters. See the Presenters section below for a current list of confirmed presenters.

    What types of sessions are offered at Great Lakes Coaches' Clinic?

    The GLCC offers several different types of sessions for coaches:

    • Event Sessions: These sessions prepare your team in a particular event. We offer sessions in every event in both Division B and Division C.
    • Coaching Sessions: We have sessions with tips for new coaches, coaches looking to advance their programs, how to write and supervise a Science Olympiad event at a competition, and sessions specific to coaching for a “Satellite SO” competition.

    Photos coming soon!

    2023 Presenters

    Phil Adamson

    A physicist by trade, Phil had been involved with Science Olympiad as a parent, coach, and Event Supervisor for the last seven years.

    Mark Ailes

    Retired physics teacher and former SO coach and State supervisor for Bridge for many years. Current state supervisor for bridge.

    Nan Buckardt

    Nan has a long history with Science Olympiad, ranging from 12 years of coaching a B Division team to writing tests at all levels of competition and proudly being a two time National Champion Coach. Her goal is to help students fall in love with science.

    Vicki Burgholzer & Lexi Pond

    Lexi is the Illinois State and regional Event Co Supervisor for Rocks and Minerals and Fossils. Vicki is the Illinois State and Regional Event Co Supervisor for Rocks and Minerals and fossils. In a past life both Vicki and Lexi were head coaches.

    CeAnn Chalker

    I have been involved with Science Olympiad since 1990 as a Parent, Coach, local school district Science Olympiad Director, SO Coaching Clinic Chair, SO Invitational Director, National Tournament Director, National Technology Committee Chair, Rules Committee member, & National Advisory Committee Member. My actual educational background is in accounting. I have a full-time job for a large candy/snack brokerage firm. Many people ask why I spend so much time involved with Science Olympiad. Even my license plate has “SO” in it! I spend so much time on SO because I have seen the benefits for the students over the past 30 years. Not only for our 4 children but for the thousands of children who have been involved in the program. I have seen students blossom into engineers or scientists because of their experience of participating on a SO team. I have seen students realize that it is important to work with others to share ideas, to research together, and to work as a team. I have seen students find that there is always more to learn. I’ve seen students learn to not be afraid to try something new. I have seen students find friendships that last a lifetime, beyond their school years. Science Olympiad offers so much to everyone. I love when parents say they have never seen their student so interested in a subject – whether it’s studying birds, stars, ecology, electronics, building – students seem to find their niche. Science Olympiad is not a short-term project in school, it is a long-term project that can carry through a student’s lifetime.

    Sharon Drude

    My first involvement in Science Olympiad was as a parent volunteer at Ohio’s State Tournament in 1989 when my daughter was involved as a high school student. Ten years later I started coaching for a division B team when I became a Middle School Science teacher. Since 1999 I have coached numerous events whenever needed for our team. Those events include Water Quality, Bio Process, Rocks and Minerals, Meteorology, Food Science, Aquifers, Can’t Judge a Powder, Environmental Science, Disease Detectives, Potions and Poisons, Heredity, and Fossils. Although I retired from teaching in 2008, it is my joy to continue coaching Science Olympiad and sharing the value of the Science Olympiad experience to anyone who will listen!

    Kim Dyer

    Kim Dyer has coached Science Olympiad at South Middle School for 18 years. She has had the privilege of working with National and State Event Coordinators presenting at the Great Lakes Clinic, writing State Event Tests and many Invitationals in Illinois and Ohio. She has also had the privilege of being a part of the Illinois Elementary Science Olympiad from the inception.

    Tracy Eschrich

    Tracy has been a middle school science teacher for 23 years, and has coached various Science Olympiad events during that time. She has helped supervise the Experimental Design event multiple years at Lake County Regionals, and was the event supervisor for the Fast Facts event at the Illinois State Competition last year.

    Jim Grant

    Jim has been involved with Science Olympiad for 25 years. He is a past State and National event supervisor for the Physics events. He is also a past Regional Director for Illinois Science Olympiad. Jim currently serves on the Illinois Science Olympiad State Executive Board and as Arbitration Committee Chair. He is a STEM Teacher – at Thomas Middle School in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

    Brenda Guo

    Brenda Guo has been involved with SO since 2012; first as a parent, then Div. C coach, and Event Supervisor. She is a 20+ year veteran teacher of students from pre-school to graduate school in Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, and China with an MA in Applied English Linguistics. Her love of language, puzzles, and building, weave easily into challenging Write It / Do It projects, detailed rubrics, and a precise proctoring / grading system. WIDI may be labor intensive but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun!

    Paul Karnstedt

    I’ve coached Science Olympiad for 10+ years and been a state supervisor for Sounds of Music.

    Ryan Korah

    I have been involved in Science Olympiad for seven years, with the last four years dedicated to serving as a head coach. I am currently the Head Coach for Adlai E. Stevenson High School and am passionate about providing opportunities for students to achieve success. I enjoy the challenge of leading a team, fostering student interest and pursuing excellence in science-related subjects.

    Natalie Kulig

    I have been part of Science Olympiad for over 20 years. I started when my son was a 7th grader at Grayslake Middle School as a parent coach. When I started working for District 46 as a paraprofessional, I continued to help coach even though my kids were grown. The two events I always seemed to coach were Dynamic Planet and Crime Busters. While I worked in Sales and Marketing in the video game industry for most of my early career, my love of science never waned. Science Olympiad was a way for me to be a scientist while helping middle schoolers with their science passion. As a coach of Crime Busters for most of the 20 years, I have become an expert in filling little baggies with powder and sleuthing out ways to find fingerprints, fibers, and plastics. I was head Coach for the first time at Twin Groves Middle School last year and now am head coach for Woodlawn Middle School. I hope I can share some of my experiences of the past 20 years with other coaches while I continue with my love of science.

    Elizabeth LaPlante

    Liz is an environmental scientist in the Great Lakes National Program Office of the US Environmental Protection Agency, where she is the EPA manager for Lakes Superior and Huron. She also serves on the EPA Regional Climate Change workgroup, and works with communities, tribes and states seeking to remediate past mining sites. She has been a Science Olympiad parent coach and state event supervisor for the Water Quality/Ecology event for over 9 years.

    Ann Maine

    Ann Maine has been a B and C level Science Olympiad Coach for over 20 years. She has been the Illinois State supervisor for Disease Detectives for many years. She is an Associate Prof. of Biology at Lake Forest College, where she teaches, among other course, Emerging World Diseases.

    Chuck Markos

    20+ years coaching, supervising, new event concepts, and rules writing for Flight Events.

    Stacy Martinez

    I have been involved in coaching Science Olympiad since 1995. I coach at Wredling Middle School in St. Charles, IL. I have been a member of the state core team since 2018.

    Amy Nicely

    Amy Nicely is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Danville Area Community College (DACC) in Danville, IL. She is the co-director for the Parkland Regional tournament as well as the Illinois State tournament. Amy has experience running multiple events at the elementary, regional and state level including Chem Lab, CrimeBusters and Forensics.

    Dan Nichols

    Dan Nichols is the National Science Olympiad Program Director. He was a long time coach in Indiana, as well as tournament director. He served on the Indiana Science Olympiad State board serving as State Director for several years. He has been a National event Supervisor and is also the current Inquiry committee chairperson.

    Alec Renner

    Alec Renner has more than a decade’s worth of experience coaching B and C divisions for the Grayslake, Illinois, community as well as supervising events at the Illinois State level including Microbe Mission C. He is a fourth year podiatric medical student at Rosalind Franklin University and looks forward to starting residency next year.

    Eric Rowley

    Eric has his Ph.D. in Science (Physics) Education from the University of Iowa, his M.A.T in Physics and Chemistry Education from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and his B.S. in Physics from the University of Minnesota, Institute of Technology. He is a Senior Lecturer of Physics at Wright State University and has spent the past 20+ years teaching physics, physical science, and science education at all levels. Eric’s experience with Science Olympiad began with coaching B and C-Division teams in Minnesota in 1998 culminating in a trip to Nationals in 2002. He is currently an event coach in Ohio. Including experience in both Minnesota and Ohio, Eric has co-directed regional tournaments, served as Regional, State, and National Event Supervisor for several events including Experimental Design and Write-it/Do-it.

    Laura Shum

    Laura Shum is an alumni of Science Olympiad and product of the program. The spirit of competition from 4th grade to 8th grade in the 90’s sparked a life-time love of science. As a middle school science teacher, Laura has found many opportunities to take an active role in Science Olympiad. From starting teams at multiple schools, coaching middle school teams, and as a regional director, Laura’s mission is to provide a rich experience for students as the volunteers and coaches did for her many years ago.

    Troy Simpson

    Troy has been coaching Science Olympiad teams at Watseka Jr. High (formerly Glenn Raymond School) for 28 years. He is currently the team head coach with primary coaching focus in the Earth Science and building events, where his students are regular regional and state medalists, along with several top ten team finishes at state. He has been a Regional Event Supervisor in a number of Earth Science events and has been the Illinois State event supervisor for Geologic Mapping and Remote Sensing events for several years. Troy teaches 8th grade Earth Science and 7th Grade Life Science at Watseka Jr. High. He was recognized by Illinois Science Teaching Associations’ Outstanding Science Teaching Award in 2007 and the National Association of Geoscience Teachers with the Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Award in 2016. He also has led or co-led several geologic field experiences for educators and students getting people outdoors and connecting the learning experience beyond the classroom.

    Howie Swider

    Howie is a retired physics teacher from Niles West High School where he coached all of the building events for 25 years. This is his 28th season of Science Olympiad and has been an event supervisor at the Regional, State and National levels.

    Connor Todd

    I began competing in Science Olympiad in my freshman year of high school, focusing on Earth & Space Science events. I competed in Astronomy at the National Tournament for three years, including a 1st place finish in 2015. I began writing Solar System and Astronomy exams for the regional to national level in 2016 and have been covering both events at coaches’ clinics since 2017. I studied Mechanical Engineering as an undergraduate and Space Engineering as a master’s student, both at the University of Michigan, and am currently a test engineer for the ground segment of the James Webb Space Telescope at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD.

    Amy Truemper

    Amy has been a coach since 2004 and for 13 years has been involved with Experimental Design at the regional and state level for both B and C divisions.

    Don Walko

    Don is a physicist at Argonne National Laboratory. He has been a Science Olympiad parent for over a decade, and has supervised or co-supervised various events over the past several years.

    Very Special Thank Yous


    Emily has been a Science Olympiad event coach for 10 years, a Regional co-chair, and a passionate champion for science education. As a patented scientist herself, she invests her time in assuring student learners have opportunities to explore and develop curiosity about the world around them. She coordinated breakfast and lunch for this event. Clearly, she is the MVP!


    Arturo has been a supporter of Science Olympiad for 7 years. He is a co-head coach and has been an event supervisor for several events. When the program needed help during the pandemic, Arturo donated countless hours by developing technology that allowed our students to participate from afar. He continues to be integral in our program by helping to manage the website, designing logos, and being the brain behind many challenges. He coordinated all technology needs for the Great Lakes Coaches Clinic to assure every presenter could deliver their information with ease. He is also the ISO webmaster and has redesigned our website and keeps it updated!


    Stacy is the most familiar name in the ISO program and it SHOULD be! She keeps the program organized and communication flowing. She always has the answers we all need and sends the perfect gifs for every occasion. Thank you, Stacy, for your help with registration and communication (and for keeping us all grounded)!


    Eric and Lisa are the head coaches of the Daniel Wright Science Olympiad program and have led their student learners to National competitions for years. Their dedication to the program exceeds their home school. When GLCC was in need of a host location, they jumped at the chance to help Illinois Science Olympiad. Our sincerest thanks to the Lincolnshire School District and to both Eric and Lisa for going above and beyond!


    Heather is the master of all things ISO! From the website, to email, to wufoo, to avogadro and scilympiad…. SHE does it all! Thank you, Heather, for keeping up with the changes to registration and for creating (and recreating) form after form to make GLCC possible. Thanks, also, for sharing your smile and kindness with us all!


    Ward’s Science has been a supporter of the Science Olympiad program for years! This year they donated the bags, mugs, and a few team kits. We are grateful for their sponsorship. Check them out for all your science education needs –