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General FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

-Team Registration: September 5 - December 31, 2017 (late fees apply December 31-January 15).  NO new teams after January 15.-Volunteers and Coaches can create accounts any time: Volunteer signup sheets for tournament specific activities will be posted on line once a schedule is finalized.What will your team do?MSO teams are similar to school sports teams in that they "practice" throughout the year to compete in various tournaments, including a state tournament in which middle and high school teams may qualify for the national tournament. Middle and high school tournaments are conducted on Saturdays and have approximately 24 events that students may compete in that cover the various science disciplines of biology, chemistry, physics, earth/environmental science, engineering and technology.MSO schools compete in leagues against similar sized schools in their own regions, and successful teams move on to compete against the best teams in the state. Individual medals and team trophies are presented at all levels of competition.
Any charter school, homeschool group, private school or public school is eligible. Homeschool groups must be identified in an attendance area. Contact the State Office if you are a homeschool group and interested in joining to be sure you qualify for membership. HOME-SCHOOLED STUDENTSOption 1 - Participation through a Local Public SchoolIf the state in which a home schooled student resides allows home schooled students to participate in public school activities, home schooled students may either (1) choose to participate as a member of the Science Olympiad team at the local public school they would attend were they not home schooled, or (2) form a home school team as set forth in Option #2, below.
Option 2 - Participation through a Home School Team Science Olympiad will recognize Home School Teams consisting only of students who live within the boundaries of two contiguous (side-by-side) geographic counties in a single state.  As of July 20, 2011, the two-contiguous-county/single state policy will apply to all Science Olympiad Home School Teams who wish to attend to the Science Olympiad National Tournament and Science Olympiad will no longer qualify multi-county or multi-state Home School Teams. (This home school portion of the policy was adopted in 2008 and a three-year grace period of qualification followed.)
To participate, a school must register at www.marylandscienceolympiad.org. This entitles the school to receive a Coach's Rule Book, compete at their regional tournament, and be eligible for the State Tournament and National Tournament, if they qualify. The registration fee pays for one Varsity team. An additional team registration and fee (less than the varsity fee amount) will be required to register additional Junior Varsity teams for the regional tournaments.Once the registration payment (which may be paid via mail-in check or online) is received by the State Office, team numbers will be assigned and added to the Regional tournament schedule. The Coaches Manual and Rules Book are available free of charge at the National Science Olympiad website.

  • Anyone the school is willing to have represent it.
  • Anyone who is willing to stick with the team and see the job done.
  • Anyone who is willing to take the responsibility for the team at events.
  • Anyone who the school is willing to support and provide the liability in their name for the team members during travel, preparation, etc.
  • So Who are Some Types of People Who Serve as Coaches?
    • Former Science Olympiad students in high schools coach middle school students
    • College students who were in Science Olympiad and some who were not
    • Parents
    • Teachers from all disciplines, not just science, math or technology
    • Community volunteers
    • Retirees
    • Anyone who wants to take the time to help
    Advice? Don't go it alone! Recruit as many coaches as possible.
For MIDDLE and HIGH schools, up to 15 students from a school can compete on either the Varsity or Junior Varsity teams. A team is NOT REQUIRED to have 15 students, this is the maximum. In fact, a school could bring a minimum of three students to compete if they choose.For a high school team, there is a limit of 7 seniors on a team. For a middle school team, there is a limit of 5 ninth graders on a team. Technically, ninth grade students can still compete on the team for the middle school they attended after they have moved to their high school. While this is allowed, it is encouraged for ninth graders to compete in the school they are attending.Students must be from the membership school (recruiting from neighboring schools is not permitted); except, middle schools may invite any combination of up to five of their last year's seventh or eighth grade students to be part of the team. The exception here refers only to students that LEFT your school and went to another school. Here's where the exception comes into play:

  • 8th graders from a 6-8 school moving to a high school (up to 5 can be asked back to the middle school team)
  • Previous 7th grade members from a grade 5-7 middle school that are now in 8th or 9th grade at a high school (up to 5 can be asked back to the middle school team)This exception does NOT refer to seventh or eighth graders that remain in your school. In fact, you could have your whole team comprised of current eighth graders that were seventh graders last year and are still in your school (and not just five, as a coach might have misconstrued from the except). The limit of five 9th graders still applies, no matter where the students come from!OVERLAPPING GRADE LEVEL MEMBER INVITATIONS: Schools that cover overlapping grade levels in a division (i.e., K-8, 3-7, 7-12), are permitted to invite members below the Division grade level designations in order to encourage and support the inclusion of all children who wish to participate in Science Olympiad, if no other outlet (such as a division-specific team) is available. We prefer and encourage students to participate in the division that matches current Science Olympiad grade level designations. Participation is limited to age-appropriate events (as determined by a coach, principal or tournament director) or where safety is a concern (such as the use of chemicals).
A school can have one primary team (Varsity Team) and 2 Additional Teams (Junior Varsity teams). ONLY your "Varsity team", however, is eligible to qualify your school for the State Tournament. The Junior Varsity team(s) will compete in the same rooms/areas with the Varsity team in the events, but will be required to be distinguished and separated from the Varsity team. Varsity teams compete against other Varsity teams and Junior Varsity teams compete against other Junior Varsity teams. Trophies and medals will be issued in the Junior Varsity division to the top teams. The Varsity competition will award trophies to the State Qualifying teams (based on a quota system).A minimum of 4 Junior Varsity teams must be registered in a regional competition in either the B or C division in order to have the medals and trophies presented for them.Junior Varsity team members MAY NOT switch to the Varsity team and compete in events with them during the regional tournament. This applies to all events, walk-ins as well. Varsity and Junior Varsity teams from the same school are to compete as though they were from two different schools. No collaboration of any kind is allowed between the Varsity and Junior Varsity teams from one school.

Following the Regional Tournament, coaches will be provided with spreadsheets to show how Junior Varsity teams placed in each event compared to the Varsity teams in order to use this information to determine who goes on from a school to the State Tournament. In many cases, the Junior Varsity teams score and place better than the Varsity teams.

The team that represents a school at the State Tournament can be any students the coach and team choose. It could even be someone who did not compete at the Regional Tournament. The only thing the regional tournament does is to qualify the school to send a team to the State Tournament. You can send new students or those who competed at the regional. The only requirement is that all students on a team be members of that school's student body as defined by the administration of the school AND HAVE REGISTERED STUDENT ACCOUNTS 3 WEEKS PRIOR TO THE TOURNAMENT.
To help coaches make decisions about joining the Maryland Science Olympiad, this is a good estimate of costs prepared by a former coach.

  • Registration per Year - The current rates are posted for varsity and junior varsity teams.  Each team allows up to 15 student members.  The first team registered is the varsity team, which each subsequent team FROM THE SAME SCHOOL competes in the Junior Varsity league.

  • Invitational tournaments hosted by other states or entities normally require a separate entry fee. Teams may choose to participate in as many invitational tournaments as desired.  Be aware that it is typical for teams to be required to run (and write the tests for) one or more events at each invitational they attend.

  • Transportation and food costs vary according to the distance a school must travel to tournaments.

  • Coaches Workshop (Optional) Highly recommended, but not required. Minimal registration fee plus parking / transportation costs.  The location is the Johns Hopkins University (Homewood Campus). This workshop is usually held in October.

    The rest of the costs are very dependent on the event. Events that require building something do involve more expenses. Examples of such events are:

    • Bridge BuildingTower BuildingWheeled VehicleMission PossibleScramblerWright Stuff (Airplane)Bottle Rocket

      However, even these devices can be built at a minimal cost. The majority of the events require materials typically available in the school. Some events require taxonomical key books or allow students to bring resources with them that should be in the school library or available online. A few events require that students bring a simple kit of supplies such as beakers, test tubes, etc. to reduce the incredible workload on the volunteer event leaders in setting up for the event.  You can easily build a lab equipment kit from the recycle bin (plastic egg cartons for powder testing, Dixie cups for powders, Sharpie marker, popsicle sticks or plastic spoons, etc.)  We encourage students to build their own portfolios for the events they decide to compete in. Students do the research and build their own portfolio or study guide.A ROUGH estimate of the SUPPLIES needed for 15 students would be no more than $500.  If a second team comes from a school, the initial $500 would cover most supplies costs of this team as well.

  • Classroom activities
    The most productive method of using Science Olympiad activities is in the classroom. 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 classroom setting.

    The good news is that most of the events can fit the curriculum of a middle school science program. Some events fit the content of 6th grade best while others better match the 7th or 8th grade. 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.

    It is very worthwhile to challenge students with the events. They can compete with themselves by repeating an event to improve performance. Teams of students can work together to compete against other teams or this can be done by classes. A time can be set aside during lunch or a special assembly for students to "show off" their performance or to compete. Records can be kept and the final team can be made up of the students with the best overall performance.

    An intensive study of the events in the Science Olympiad has been completed by the North Carolina organization showing how each event fits into the North Carolina Course of Study for middle and high school.
  • Special class
    At some schools the Science Olympiad team has evolved into a semester or year-long class. This has advantages in that it gives students plenty of time to practice the events under the direct supervision of a teacher. But this method has several disadvantages, as well. Students usually take the class once and may not be in the class just prior to the competition. Some students who may have taken the class as a younger student are experienced, but they not in the class during this year. Usually when a school has reached the point where it has a 'special' for Science Olympiad, the teachers have tried all four of the methods for preparing the students.
  • After-school experience
    This method is done in an extra curricular fashion. Events can be scheduled throughout the year after the school day. Some events can take place once or twice as a competition without much practice before the school-level competition. Others can be scheduled and advertised well in-advance of the school level competition (such as the construction events). 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 competition. Some schools even meet every day during the last week and on some Saturdays.

    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 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.
  • Combined method
    This method is used by most schools. Although many teachers say that they would like to have a special class for the Science Olympiad, it is difficult to have such a class in most schools. Instead, the typical 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.
Running a Science Olympiad team or coaching a Science Olympiad team requires people and resources. Recruit help from everywhere. You CANNOT do this alone!
Start with your school administration. You will not be successful without their support. You may want to remind them that the price for membership of an entire team is approximately the price for one football helmet.
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.
Form a Science Olympiad Booster Club and let your boosters accomplish fundraising and recruitment of coaches. Check to see if team parents work for employers that:

  • Provide funding if parents volunteer time to the school/team,
  • Matches funds the parents contribute to the school/team,
  • Are science oriented and would donate old equipment, materials, money, or volunteers.Many teams receive sponsorship, support, and volunteer coaches from local service clubs, parents' groups, school boards, intermediate (regional) school districts, senior citizens groups, engineering offices, local community colleges and universities, science-related businesses, book publishers, the military, science supply houses, newspapers, park service officers, county extension offices, high school students or college students needing community service hours, honor fraternities and societies at local universities, local companies, corporations, and industry.You could also try fast food chains, local congressmen, garden clubs, conservation groups, professional associations, businesses, anyone! Many businesses require about six weeks for contributions to go through their machinery, so allow enough lead-time. Don't forget to recruit coaches from local business and industry. For example, engineers are great to help students with bridges, towers, trebuchets, airplanes, bottle rockets, Mission Possibles, and so on. There are tons of folks right in your community that are experts in the events your students are competing in. Reach out to them and get them involved!
The official Rules Manual is now available free of charge directly at the National Science Olympiad Website www.soinc.org
Go to the tournament registration desk, confirm your arrival on campus, and pick up any required team items. The team roster must be printed from the website and must be pre-populated with students' names and information.  Each student completes an online registration process once (student registrations a good year after year - and may be converted to volunteer accounts after graduation).  So, important contact and waiver information is already complete through the online registration process.  Therefore, the printed team roster from our website shows us that your team members have registered and completed all the requirements.Notice: Info like team homeroom assignments, parking info, and such will be posted on our website not less than one week prior to tournament.

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