What is Science Olympiad?
A nationally recognized nonprofit organization devoted to
improving the quality of science education among children everywhere.
A program for providing
recognition for academic efforts and hard work of students and
What are the Goals of Science Olympiad?
bring science to life, to show how science works, to emphasize problem
solving aspects of science and the understanding of science concepts.
expose students to real-life challenges of working with a team, group
planning and cooperation.
capture and retain the interest of students in science and technology.
increase participation of students in science courses, programs, fairs,
attract students to careers in science, technology and science teaching.
of student self-esteem through genuine achievements.
of classroom science programs.
of school spirit.
of the community.
What are the benefits of Science Olympiad?
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A three year Georgia State
University study of the impact of Science Olympiad on middle and high
school students confirmed significant benefits in the following areas:
in-depth knowledge and understanding of science concepts and general
increase in ability to apply scientific knowledge
breadth of knowledge in areas previously unexplored
significantly enhanced laboratory skills
science as real scientists would
and apply the scientific method with meaning
to see the interrelatedness of the sciences.
of problem solving skills as a long term endeavor
in the importance of trial and error
on experiences rather than memorization.
3. Hands-on training in:
and/or creative thinking
critical thinking skills to real-time situations
experimentation to solve problems at hand
application of new ideas
management and teamwork.
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Who can participate in Science Olympiad
Any public or private, home
school group or charter school with grades 6 through 12 is eligible.
Membership is open to all schools and is in no way affected by race,
religion, sex, or ethnic origin. Science Olympiad provides for
participation two levels.
How is Science Olympiad Organized?
Science Olympiad provides
several opportunities for education, tournament and fun.
- Regional Tournament: Regional tournaments are organized to provide teams the
opportunity to compete and qualify for State-level tournaments.
Currently, New Mexico has five Regional tournaments. Participation in a
regional tournament is required for a team to qualify to advance to the
State tournament. All students on a team must be members of that schools
student body as defined by the administration of the school. The team
that represents a school at the State Tournament is determined by the
Tournament: The New Mexico Science Olympiad is the state-level
tournament for competition of all qualifying teams at the regional level.
New Mexico Science Olympiad winners, in both B & C divisions, advance
to the National Science Olympiad.
Science Olympiad: National Science Olympiad provides tournaments for qualifying winners from all 50 states.
What Happens at Tournaments
built devices such as towers into any required impounds.
event schedule and verify room locations.
- Compete in events.
usually last about 50 minutes each.
events require 2 or 3 students
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What Does It Cost for a Team?
is an estimate of the costs involved in coaching a Science Olympiad team.
per Year: For one team this is currently $140. An additional fee of $90
per school is assessed for schools wishing to enter two teams at their
Regional Tournament. This is all the dues a school or group ever pays
even if they advance to the National Level.
and food costs to the regional tournament in your area.
Workshop (Optional) is $40 for 2013/14.
rest of the costs are very dependent on the event. Events that require
building something do involve more expenses. The majority of the events
require materials that are commonly on hand at schools. A ROUGH estimate
of the supplies needed for one team would be about $250. This does not
include the membership fee. When purchasing supplies, be sure and tell the
business owner the purpose of the purchase. Often times, business owners
will donate or discount the cost of any supplies. Some teams solicit
businesses to sponsor them with in-kind donations of supplies or financial
support such as cash donations.
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for tournaments by examining the events to be held at the tournament
and deciding which team members will compete in each particular
event. You are NOT required to have 2 students per event as the rules
state but it does help. Usually a student will be involved in no more than
compete against teams in their own division. Middle School does not
compete against High School.
are composed of up to 15 students. Teams are not required to have 15
students. Build teams with as many students as are interested, especially
if you are trying to get Science Olympiad firmly rooted at your school.
Load teams with younger students if possible. This promotes long-term
growth of Science Olympiad teams and programs.
must compete on the team of the school they are attending.
may only be a member of one team at a time.
may have two teams compete at the Regional level. However, all teams from
the same school must compete at the same regional tournament for qualifying purposes.
the registration deadline (December 16), teams may register to compete at
any additional Regional tournament if slots remain and if the
Director will allow. Coaches
should contact the Regional
Director directly to determine if slots are available.
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Educate yourself about
Science Olympiad. Regional, State and National Science Olympiad
websites contain great information about the history and value of Science
Olympiad in our schools.
Talk with someone at your
school or another school who already has a Science Olympiad team. Your
local Regional tournament director may be able to find you another teacher
in the area to visit with.
Make the decision to have a
team as early in the year as possible.
- Register your team so that you can receive your coach’s manuals early.
When the manual arrives, READ IT!
Attend the Coach's
to learn more event skills.
Select only a few events to
prepare for and compete in during the first year. Don’t try to compete in
all events. Pick the events that have the easiest preparation. Year one is
Enlist other interested
people who would help you including any teacher no matter what subject
area, parents, community people you know, administrators–in short, anyone
you can find can help with this.
Set the date for the first
team meeting with students and begin making announcements and invitations
to students to join the team. Talk with other teachers and seek
recommendations of students to invite to join the team. Use some of the
activities in your classroom plans to introduce students to the idea of
the Science Olympiad. See if you can get other teachers to do the same.
Hold the Meeting! The idea
is to let students and potential coaches/helpers see what it is all
about. Establish a rough schedule for practices/meetings leading to the
tournaments. Have copies of the event rules for students and potential
coaches/helpers to look over and keep. Have sign up sheets for each event
so students can start to claim the events.
Develop a team "Supply Box"
which will contain pens, pencils, screw drivers, first aid supplies, etc
as you see you need it.
Practice with the students
at subsequent team meetings and make sure they are following the rules.
Give all students a chance to participate. Check online sources for event
information, coach’s and student chat groups. Specifically, check the
Regional, State and National Science Olympiad websites for tips and
updates on events. Order old tests from the National Science Olympiad
website to help students practice and study. DO NOT hesitate to let
students participate in events for which they are not prepared. This helps
them learn what is expected.
Sharpen Skills. Team
members can compete against their own recorded times, performance or
scores. Teams can compete against each other within a school or
district. Teams can set up performances or demonstration for general
assemblies or at lunch times to promote support for the team and
experience in tournament or performance. All of these advance activities
can also be of benefit in selecting the final team members for tournaments.
Stress safety in all events
and at all times. Don't leave students unsupervised, especially when they
are working on the construction events.
At tournament time, arrange
for transportation to your Regional Tournament if you are ready, compete.
If you are not ready, visit the Regional Tournament with your team as a
learning experience. Invite students, parents, teachers, school
administrators, etc. to attend tournaments, both as chaperones and to
develop them as Science Olympiad supporters. Take Pictures!!! Don’t
STRESS winning, at least not a first. Emphasize participating and having
fun at the same time.
Debrief with students as
soon as you can when they finish an event to learn what was involved to
help for next year. Parents are great for doing this for middle school
teams while the high school students can usually just write down enough
information. Have parent spectators take notes on events, designs,
tournament layouts, etc. Encourage all students who show interest to
continue. You can develop multiple teams and recruit other adults to help
if you get lots of interested students. Interestingly enough, once this
activity “catches on” in a school, it is hard to stop. Build a team strong
in students and in adult coaches and supporters.
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Promote your team to the
rest of the school and parents to gain support. Enlist help from other
teachers at your school. They don’t have to be math and science teachers
to help you organize or manage your team. Ask parents and community
members to help. Retired citizens may love helping if you ask.
Ask for help from local
community colleges, local universities, engineering offices, science
related businesses, alumni associations, county extension offices, park
service officers, etc. Many times the people who work there are looking
for community service opportunities.
Enlist high school students
to help with Middle School teams. Many high schools now are including
community service in their programs, and this is an excellent connection
Request help from local
companies, corporations and industry. Most are looking for ways to be
involved in community service. Contact human resources departments to
make your request.
Contact the New Mexico
Science Olympiad or your local Regional organization for help.
Ask school administration
for money. The price of one football helmet is more than the membership
for the entire team.
Form a Science Olympiad
Booster Club and let your boosters accomplish fundraising.
Request financial support
from parents, local companies, corporations and industry. You may get
financial support and/or help in other ways.
Request money or in-kind
donations from other community resources.
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of Preparing Students
Method One: Classroom Activities
Many teachers coaching
Science Olympiad teams find using classroom time as the most productive
method or preparing. Some of the construction events are not conducive to
this method. The construction events do use all of the science process
skills but they do not always match the classroom science content. It is
also difficult to conduct some of those activities safely in a regular
Most of the events fit the
curriculum of a middle school science program. At the high school level
individual events have a natural affinity to specific courses such as
biology, chemistry, or earth science. At either level the process skills
demanded by the events are beneficial to all students.
Method Two: Special Class
Some schools have developed
a semester or year-long class in Science Olympiad. The advantage of
having a dedicated class is that it gives students regular and frequent
time to learn the science applications and practice the events. As
attractive as this method sounds, it also has disadvantages such a
limiting teams to those students taking the class.
Method Three: After-School Experience
This method is done in an
extra curricular fashion. Events can be scheduled throughout the year
after the school day. The practices or meetings are usually scheduled for
about 1 to 2 hours after school. Some schools start with a monthly
meeting and go to a weekly schedule during the two months prior to the
regional tournament. Some schools even meet every day during the last
week and on some Saturdays. Some events can be practiced at informal
tournaments or at scheduled and advertised events.
This method should be open
to all students but the fact that transportation is needed for students to
get home may limit some students from participating. Some schools have
found creative ways to provide this transportation for the students. In
any case, it is difficult to supervise more than 30 students at a time, so
this method does limit the number of students involved. However, by
having other teachers or people from the community, you can divide the
students into smaller groups and accomplish a lot more. Usually this
method is most effective when other teachers, parents or resource people
from the community join the students on days when the events being
practiced match their area of expertise. It is not unusual for a team to
have 10-15 people come in to help during the school year.
Method Four: Combined Method
This method is used by most
schools. Although most teachers say that they would like to have a
special class for the Science Olympiad, it is difficult to have such a
class in many schools. Instead, the most used method involves combining
in-school and after-school activities. This combination has many
advantages. It involves more students and includes all events. Then those
who are more dedicated and want to spend extra time can practice the
events and be members of the team that travels to the regional tournament
to represent the school.
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What does not work?
the “A” students from your classes. Many times students
who are not as academically successful in class become some of
your best participants, especially in some of the events that
require hands-on problem-solving and building activities.
stressed when students do not carry through as they should with an event.
Let the team deal with this. Peer pressure in this situation is
to prevent overzealous parent assistance. Most activities take place on
site and the kids compete on their own at the tournaments. We greatly
need parent support and involvement so see interactions between parents
and children as a positive thing.
to see an immediately thriving Science Olympiad team in a new school could
be an unreasonable goal. Be patient but persistent. There are many
stories of teams who have now competed at the national level who struggled
for the first few years.
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How to motivate students.
them in the easier events in class.
them its fun first!
how being involved will add to their understanding of how to “DO GOOD
SCIENCE!” outside the classroom.
them that Science Olympiad is a great activity for scholarship
how they can become “Intelletes”, i.e. Intellectual Athletes.
them that winners are awarded medals and trophies.
participate, a school must join the Science Olympiad Organization by
filling out an application located on the New Mexico Science Olympiad
website and sending in the registration fee. This entitles the school to
receive a Coach’s Manual, compete at one regional tournament and be
eligible for the State and National Tournaments. Participation in a
Regional Tournament is required for a team to qualify to compete in the
Mailing of Coach’s Manuals will commence on September 23rd. No exceptions.
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C (High School) is for grades 9-12. If students are in a junior high
where the 9th
grade is on another campus, 9th
graders may participate at the high school they attend. There is a
maximum of 7 seniors allowed on a high school team.
Division B (Middle School), grades 6-9 are eligible. This means 9th
graders can participate at the high school level, the middle school they
previously attended or the middle school they are attending. There is a
maximum of 5 ninth grade students is allowed on a middle school team. A
ninth grade student CANNOT compete on a middle AND high school team the
done everything. You recruited a team, have been meeting for weeks, and
yet your first year teams does not seem to gel in time. Take heart!
Remember the first year is for development. Take your students to a
Regional or the State tournament as a field trip to get the feel for
tournaments and for fun!
celebrate your successes. Present awards, have ceremonies, pep rallies or
banquets, give certificates. Encourage, encourage, encourage!
plan for next year before this year is over. Let students and others
helping see the importance of building the program.
can you do?
We hope you will consider
being involved in Science Olympiad by supporting or coaching a team in
your community. The students will learn about science in a hands-on way
and practice real life skills such as teamwork and cooperation. They'll
have fun and you’ll enjoy it too!