What is Science Olympiad?
Science Olympiad is an international nonprofit organization devoted to improving the quality of science education, increasing student interest in science and providing recognition for outstanding achievement in science education by both students and teachers.
Olympiad tournaments are rigorous academic interscholastic competitions that consist of a series of individual and team events, which students prepare for during the year. The competitions follow the format of popular board games, TV shows and athletic games. These challenging and motivational events are well balanced between the various science disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics, computers and technology. There is also a balance between events requiring knowledge of science facts, concepts, processes, skills and science applications.
Many states and regions have organized physics, biology or chemistry Olympiads, but few have combined all disciplines in one large Science Olympiad. The excitement of many students from all science areas competing and cheering one another on to greater learning caused one school district to coin the phrase "intellete". When they searched for a place to house their newly won Science Olympiad State Championship trophy, the only location available was outside the principal's office in the "athlete" showcase, so they convinced the school board to build an "intellete" showcase. An intellete is any person who demonstrates outstanding performance in an academic or intellectual pursuit (in this case, science).
One of the goals of the Science Olympiad is to elevate science education and learning to a level of enthusiasm and support that is normally reserved only for varsity sports programs.
A school must register as a member of the Science Olympiad organization and pay the membership fee to the State office in order to participate in the regional tournament. You must be registered at least 2 weeks in advance of the regional competition date, however most teams register the preceeding fall. Team fees for Missouri are around $150 for each team.
After registering with the Missouri Science Olympiad, you must then register for the regional tournament. No additional fees are required. However, you will register each team and select the times that you will compete in each event. This is a VERY important step. Each team may have up to 15 members, but there are 23 events in each division. Most of those events allow 2 people to cooperatively compete. Therefore, in order for a team to compete in all events, each teammate will participate in multiple events. Scheduling carefully so that you don’t “double-book” students is important to your team’s success.
Science Olympiad has different competitions for different grade levels. The Region VII tournament is for Division B (grades 6-9) and Division C (grades 9-12). Because of the structure of secondary schools in Missouri, usually B division teams are made up of 6th-8th grade students, and C division teams are made up of 9th-12th grade students. It is legal, however, for a “middle school” team to include up to five 9th grade students. C division teams are limited to seven 12th grade students. It is important to have a balance of both experienced “veterans” and enthusiastic “newbies” to have continuity in your team. One option that has been successful for some schools is to have an experienced “A” team who trains along with and coaches a younger “B” team.
Missouri is divided into eight Olympiad regions, with the largest competition being right here at Region VII! Our region is comprised of the entire SW Missouri area (pictured below). If your middle-school or high-school falls within these counties, you're in the right place. If you're here by accident, see the state website for lists of the other regions. Region VII Olympiad is hosted by and held on the campus of Missouri State University in Springfield, MO.
The Region VII Science Olympiad is held on the campus of Missouri State University, in Springfield, Missouri. This competition is made possible by the College of Natural and Applied Science.
Olympiad in Region VII is almost always held on a Saturday at the end of February. This date is chosen because it allows finalists time to prepare before the state-wide competition, as well as time to participate in other spring competitions.
Every year, the National Science Olympiad committee meets to decide which events will comprise next-year's competition. While there are always 23 events, the exact makeup is never the same. Typically, the event rotation can be classified into one of a few categories:
the same event as last year, in the same division, with a rule change.
the same event as last year, but in different division.
an event from a many years ago, put back into rotation.
a completely new event.
There are many resources online for previous years' Olympiads, and what schools across the nation did to prepare. I would encourage all new coaches to seek out old event videos, tests, diagrams, etc. to get a feel for each event. Practice is crucial to success! Begin meeting with your team as often as you feel is appropriate, as soon as you receive your event books.
Important: If you don't have a full team of 15, and still want to participate, you can register for just the events in which your students are interested. (While your team may rank in an individual event, teams without groups participating in every event are unlikely to place overall.)
Coaching a Science Olympiad team requires people and resources. Recruit help from everywhere. In the past, teams have had sponsorship from local service clubs, parents’ groups, school boards, senior citizens’ groups, book publishers, the military, local colleges and universities, and newspapers.
Seek help with coaching individual events, organizing, and publicity from your community. This is good public relations for your school and a good way to involve parents and booster clubs in supporting academic competitions. No teacher or school can buy the positive “PR” gained by placing in one or more of the Science Olympiad events. All communities are looking at schools critically. They want to help them become better. Successfully participating in Science Olympiad helps schools confirm that quality instruction is taking place in the schools and that schools are taking steps to involve students in academic extra-curricular activities.
Other non-science teachers and school staff are great resources, too. Your school nurse, technology teacher, math teacher, and health teacher would offer expertise and resources that you may not have yourself. Parents who have specific knowledge and skills—building, engineering, forestry, etc.— may also be willing to help with individual events.
While coaching a team can be a daunting task to take on alone, making it a community effort benefits everyone involved. Often all it takes to get others involved is an invitation. If you would like someone to do a presentation about Science Olympiad to your classes, PTA group, school administrators, or other community partner, please contact Dylan Welker to schedule an appointment.