Event Clarifications, Q&As, and Resources: 



2015/16 Science Olympiad

Fall Coaches Workshop Presentations

Workshop Presentations

New Mexico Science Olympiad

Clarification Rules

Updated: 11/17/15

Bridge Building


1. I know that the test support is  2 cm thick and 5 cm tall, I don’t see the third dimension.  Does this mean that we can make it a wide as we want?

2. If we read this correctly, each team will bring their own test support to be placed on the test base?

3. The test support sets on the test base without any kind of adhesive or anything to increase friction?


In the Bridge Building event rules paragraph 4.b.: One Test Support must be provided matching the Loading Block specifications (4.c.i) and then the next lines, paragraphs 4.c. and 4.c.i. give the Loading block dimensions as 5.0 x 5.0 x 2.0 cm.

So the Test Support and Loading Block are identical, except for the hole in the middle of the Loading Block. I sympathize with the ambiguity here; I was asked the same question at the Workshop here at New Mexico Tech two weeks ago, and, though I knew the answer, I couldn't find it "on the fly".

I will supply the official Test Supports; Paragraph 2. c. requires that I do. They have already been made by one of the event supervisors. He is a superb woodworker; the blocks are perfectly square. (We will have two test setups. I also supply the official Loading Blocks.)

As I read the rules, there is no adhesive nor anything to increase the friction or stability of the Test Support. I don't think this will be a big deal; we will just have to make sure that the Test Support stays right at the edge of the Clear Span Area before loading the Bridge.

Bridge Building Power Point Presentation

National Science Olympiad

Clarification Rules

Clarifications & FAQs open October 1 and close May 1. Official Rules Clarifications are made to clarify or correct the rules printed in the Science Olympiad Rules Manuals. FAQs are replies to commonly asked questions. If a FAQ reply changes the meaning or corrects a rule it will be posted as a Clarification. The Official Rules Clarifications and FAQs apply to all states and all tournaments and originate at the National level (please check your Regional or State Website for special updates pertaining to your regional or state events). Click here to view Event FAQs or to Submit a Question. The official event rulescan only found in the Science Olympiad Rules Manual that is sent to each Registered Member (to participate in any Science Olympiad Tournament a team MUST be a Member). Extra Rules Manuals can be purchased on the Science Olympiad Store or by purchasing a Science Olympiad Mobile Rules App in the Google Play or iTunes Stores.

Air Trajectory B & C: 4.e. (4th sentence) should read "The far target may be anywhere up to 2.00 m (in intervals of 0.5 m for Regionals, 0.25 m for States, and 0.10 m for Nationals) to the right or left of the imaginary centerline.” (9/16/15)

Bottle Rocket: 2. should read "Event Supervisors must provide one egg for each rocket, the launcher and water." (9/25/15)

Electric Vehicle: 2.k. add third sentence "Vehicles may reverse travel direction during the run.” (10/13/15)

Fossils B & CThe correct spelling for Sarcoptergii is Sarcopterygii (9/11/15), also corrected were Calymene and Ichthyosauria (10/10/15) (all 3 now corrected in green on the Official Fossil List on

Mission Possible B: 4.d.iii. first sentence should read "Inclined Planes must be stationary and have an object pushed or pulled at least 10cm up and along the surface of the inclined plane to count for points." (10/13/15)

Robot Arm: 7.f. should read "The maximum number of points possible is 110." (9/11/15) and 6.g.iv. The competitors impart energy directly into the arm, base, Goal Cartons, dice, or Scoreable Items. (11/11/15)

Science Olympiad Policy for Measuring and Recording Significant Figures (12/5/12)

Significant Figures in measurement include all the digits of a number that can be read directly from the markings or graduations of the instrument or measuring device plus the digit that is estimated. The last digit (and only the last one) of a measurement should be an estimate, which is counted as a significant figure. All Science Olympiad events follow this basic measurement rule. Division B students are not expected to apply the significant figure rules below for B events (e.g., Metric Mastery) unless otherwise stated in the Event Rule. By convention, if a number is less than one, a zero should always be written to the left of the decimal point, but this zero is not significant (e.g., 0.2).

Rules on determining how many significant figures are in a number:
  • All non-zero digits are always significant.
  • All zeros between two significant figures are significant.
  • All leading zeros are not significant.
  • Trailing zeros in a number containing a decimal point are significant.
  • Trailing zeros in a whole number may or may not be significant, but are significant if they were a known measured or counted value.

[Note: whole numbers rarely occur with Science Olympiad measurements because you generally record the last digit as an estimate (e.g., if you measured exactly 100mm on a ruler marked in mm, you must estimate the last digit even if it is closest to a zero and record it as 100.0mm, so in this case all four digits are significant). However, if you read 100g on an electronic balance, you cannot estimate the last digit and would record it as 100g (by convention, you should either place a bar under (or over) the last significant figure or express the number in scientific notation with the appropriate exponent (e.g., 100g or 1.00gx102 so in this case all three digits are significant)]

Rounding off rules. Examine the digit to the right of the one that is to be the last significant figure:
  • If the digit is below 5, drop it and all digits to the right of it.
  • If the digit is more than 5, increase by 1 the significant figure to the left.
  • If the digit is 5, round the significant figure to the left so that it is an even digit (exception: for the Fermi event, always round up if the digit is 5).

Calculations and significant figures:
   • Addition and subtraction: the result should have as many decimal places as the measured number with the smallest number of decimal places.
  • Multiplication and division: the result should have as many significant figures as the measured number with the smallest number of significant figures.
  • When performing intermediate calculations, keep as many digits as is practical until the end of calculation to avoid rounding errors. Rev. 12/5/12

Recommended Resources:

Events requiring Eye Protection #5 (High Impact Protection - ANSI Z87+) - Goggles with lenses identified as Z87+ regardless of markings on other parts of the goggles and Spectacles identified as Z87+ with side shields regardless of markings on other parts of the spectacles will be acceptable for events requiring High Impact Protection #5. (4/8/10)


Olympiad Students!  Nominate your coach for the

Coach of the Year Award!   

This award is presented each year to one Middle School and one High School Science Olympiad Coach. It serves to recognize those individuals who have made a positive contribution to Science Olympiad, their students, their school, and their community.  Deadline for nomination forms is February 17, 2014. 

Click for a nomination form.    PDF Format     MSWord Format