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Science Olympiad is an American team competition in which students compete in 'events' pertaining to various scientific disciplines, including earth science, biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering. Over 7,300 middle school and high school teams from 50 U.S. states compete each year. There are multiple levels of competition: invitational, regional, state, and national. Some states or private groups offer 'invitational' tournaments as practice for regional and state competitions. Teams which excel at the regional competitions advance to the state level, and then to the national level. Winners later receive several kinds of awards from medals to trophies and plaques. The program for Elementary-age students is less common and consistent. Schools have flexibility to implement the program to meet their needs. Some communities host competitive Elementary tournaments.
Science Olympiad is not associated with the International Science Olympiads, which follow a completely different format and set of rules.
- 1 History
- 2 Divisions
- 3 Events
- 4 Trial/Pilot Events
- 5 Team Structure
- 6 Scoring
- 7 Competition Levels
- 8 National Tournament
- 9 National Locations and Champions
- 10 Elementary Resources
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The first recorded Science Olympiad was held on Saturday, November 23, 1974 at St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, North Carolina. Dr. Barnes and Dr. David Wetmore were the originators of this event. Fifteen schools from North and South Carolina participated in this event. It was a day-long affair, with competitions and demonstrations for high school students in the areas of biology, chemistry, and physics. There were four event periods during this day and each event period had one fun event (like beaker race or paper airplane), one demonstration (like glassblowing and holography), and one serious event (like periodic table quiz or Science Bowl). An article by David Wetmore was published in the Journal of Chemical Education in January 1978  documenting the success of recruiting students through Science Olympiad. St. Andrews Presbyterian College continues to host a Science Olympiad tournament to this day. Mr. John C. "Jack" Cairns was a teacher at Dover High School in Delaware when he learned about the Science Olympiad tournament in North Carolina. He shared this information with Dr. Douglas R. Macbeth, the Delaware State Science Supervisor. Mr. Cairns was appointed to a steering committee to organize the first Science Olympiad in Delaware  which took place at Delaware State University in the Spring of 1977. A write-up in The Science Teacher of December 1977 caught the attention of Dr. Gerard Putz, who proposed that the program be expanded throughout the United States. After competition tests in Michigan at the Lawrence Institute of Technology and Oakland University in 1983 and 1984, Putz and Delaware director John Cairns took their plan for a national competition to the National Science Teachers Conference in Boston. The first National Tournament was attended by representatives of 17 states, held at Michigan State University in 1985. Since then, the program has expanded greatly, with 60 teams present in each division at the National Tournament. In 2012, a Global Ambassador Team from Japan was invited to attend the national tournament at the University of Central Florida. Japan continues to send a team, as of the 2016 National Tournament.
There are three divisions in the hierarchy of Science Olympiad:
- Division A for elementary school (grades K-6)
- Division B for middle school (grades 6-9)
- Division C for high school (grades 9-12)
However, the national tournament and generally state and regional tournaments are only for divisions B and C. Division A teams usually have separate interscholastic tournaments, apart from the more common intra-school competitions. Note that 6th and 9th graders have the option of competing in either of the two divisions in which they meet the grade requirements and are part of the competing school. A middle school may, however, only use up to 5 members who have graduated to the next school if they are in 9th grade or lower. Students in grades lower than the division in which the school competes in may also be on the team. Teams are restricted to five 9th graders for division B and seven 12th graders for division C. Students may not participate on multiple teams, e.g. a 9th grader on both a high school and middle school team would not be allowed.
In Divisions B and C, teams may compete in up to twenty-three main events, which usually occur over a single day (some tournaments, such as the Texas State tournament, run competitive events over multiple days); done by a team of no more than 15 members. Events fall under five main categories: Life, Personal, and Social Science, Earth & Space Science, Physical Science & Chemistry, Technology & Engineering, Inquiry & Nature of Science. They are either knowledge-based (for example, written tests on earth science, physics, astronomy, or biology), hands-on (for example, chemistry lab practicals or events involving both device testing and an exam), or engineering-based (participants construct a device to do specified tasks).
Knowledge-based events generally have two participants either taking a test or mathematically analyzing data. Examples of such events are Anatomy and Physiology, Meteorology, and Remote Sensing.
Hands-on events generally consist of two participants performing experiments or interacting with physical objects to achieve a certain goal. Some examples are Forensics, Experimental Design, and Hovercraft.
Engineering-based events have a team of two to three participants. They are to construct a device following a specific event's parameters and test the device against others. Examples include Electric Vehicle, Towers, and Mission Possible.
The majority of events require two team members, though a few require more. If one member is unable to attend an event, the other is able to continue, depending on the event, with the competition, though at an obvious disadvantage. If the team has one available, a back-up team member may be placed with the member as opposed to their former partner.
The list and rules for events change and are updated every year to input dynamism and to limit the advantages of more experienced teams.
States have substantial leeway in how they run their organization; several states, notably North Carolina and Texas run altered slates of events; in the case of Texas, teams can choose to replace National events with state-exclusive events.
Events for the 2016-2017 school year
Includes the Division B and Division C events designated by the national committee. For information on state-specific events, please check your state website.
|Anatomy and Physiology (B/C)||Topics are the endocrine system, nervous system, and the senses.|
|Astronomy (C)||Stellar evolution and Type Ia supernova.|
|Bottle Rocket (B)||Teams will construct one or two rockets that will launch an egg and return it safely to earth.|
|Chemistry Lab (C)||Focuses on practical laboratory skills, gas laws, and thermodynamics.|
|Crime Busters (B)||Forensic investigation using simulated crime scene evidence|
|Disease Detectives (B/C)||Foodborne illness|
|Dynamic Planet (B/C)||Tectonics|
|Ecology (B/C)||Ecology and adaptations in selected biomes|
|Electric Vehicle (C)||Teams will build, test, and race an electric vehicle|
|Experimental Design (B/C)||Teams will design an experiment using a selected assortment of equipment and objects.|
|Fast Facts (B)||Teams will test their knowledge of science terminology.|
|Food Science (B)||Teams will build a calorimeter and demonstrate their knowledge of food chemistry.|
|Forensics (C)||Teams will identify the composition of simulated crime scene evidence.|
|Game On (C)||Teams will create a computer game on a designated topic using the programming language Scratch.|
|Helicopters (C)||Teams will build, test, and fly a rubber powered helicopter.|
|Hovercraft (B/C)||Teams will construct and test a motorized hovercraft and demonstrate their knowledge of classical mechanics.|
|Hydrogeology (C)||Team will use a computer simulation to create and test ways to ameliorate the impact of human activity on groundwater.|
|Invasive Species (B/C)||The impact of invasive species|
|Materials Science (C)||Knowledge of materials science|
|Meteorology (B)||Severe weather|
|Microbe Mission (B/C)||Knowledge of microorganisms|
|Mission Possible (B)||Teams will design and test a machine to perform a specific task.|
|Optics (B/C)||Teams will use mirrors to direct a laser beam.|
|Reach for the Stars (B)||Participants will demonstrate their understanding of the use spectroscopy in the study of stellar evolution.|
|Remote Sensing (C)||Application of remote sensing in the study of global warming.|
|Road Scholar (B)||Teams will demonstrate their knowledge of the use of maps and satellite images.|
|Robot Arm (C)||Teams will build, test, and demonstrate the use of a robotic arm.|
|Rocks and Minerals (B/C)||Teams will demonstrate their knowledge of rocks and minerals.|
|Scrambler (B)||Teams will construct a mechanical device that safely and quickly moves an egg along a track.|
|Towers (B/C)||Tower construction|
|Wind Power (B/C)||Teams will build a wind turbine and demonstrate their knowledge of alternative energy sources.|
|Wright Stuff (B)||Teams will build, test, and fly a monoplane.|
|Write It Do It (B/C)||Teams will attempt to build a device using only the written instructions provided by a student.|
Events for the 2015-2016 school year
Includes the Division B and Division C events designated by the national committee. For information on state-specific events, please check your state website.
|Air Trajectory (B/C)||Prior to the competition teams will build and document a device designed to launch a projectile onto or near a target and collect data on the device's performance. Launching force must be supplied by a falling mass (3.500 kg (C) or 5.000 kg (B)) which must be converted to air pressure or air movement.|
|Anatomy & Physiology (B/C)||Teams will answer questions based on this year's body systems (skeletal, muscular, and integumentary).|
|Astronomy (C)||Teams will demonstrate an understanding of the basic concepts of math and physics relating to stellar evolution, and stellar formation, and exoplanets.|
|Bio-Process Lab (B)||Teams will answer lab-based questions relating to life science processes.|
|Bottle Rocket (B)||Prior to the competition teams will construct rockets to maximize air time while keeping a chicken egg intact upon landing.|
|Bridge Building (B/C)||Prior to the competition teams will build a wooden structure to support a central load and achieve the maximum efficiency while spanning a 35 cm (B)/45 cm (C) wide gap.|
|Cell Biology (C)||Teams will demonstrate knowledge of cell biology and cellular biochemistry.|
|Chemistry Lab (C)||Teams will complete laboratory tasks and answer questions related to gases and chemical kinetics.|
|Crave the Wave (B)||Teams will solve problems and answer question relating to waves and wave motion.|
|Crime Busters (B)||Teams will perform chemical and physical tests and analyses to solve a crime.|
|Disease Detectives (B/C)||Teams answer questions relating to epidemiology with focus on this year's topic (population growth).|
|Dynamic Planet (B/C)||Teams will work on tasks and answer questions relating to physical and geological oceanography (this year's topic).|
|Elastic Launched Glider (B)||Prior to the competition teams will construct elastic launched gliders designed to achieve maximum air time.|
|Electric Vehicle (C)||Prior to the competition teams will construct an electric-powered vehicle to move quickly and accurately to a specified target point.|
|Experimental Design (B/C)||Teams will design, conduct, analyze, and write-up an experiment performed by the team onsite.|
|Food Science (B)||Teams will study the science of dairy products.|
|Forensics (C)||Teams will perform chemical and physical tests and analyses to solve a crime.|
|Fossils (B/C)||Teams will identify and answer questions about a set of fossils given on the official list  in a station-based format.|
|Game On (C)||Teams will design and build an original computer game onsite using Scratch (programming language).|
|Geologic Mapping (C)||Teams will demonstrate knowledge about the use and construction of topographic and geologic maps to evaluate geohazards and analyze subsurface features.|
|Green Generation (B/C)||Teams will demonstrate an understanding of general ecological principles, human impact on the environment and possible solutions to harmful impact on the environment.|
|Hydrogeology (C)||Teams will answer questions on groundwater concepts, manipulate a groundwater computer model, and evaluate solutions to anthropogenic effects on groundwater.|
|Invasive Species (B/C)||Teams will identify and answer questions about a set of invasive species listed by the rules .|
|Its About Time (C)||Teams will construct and test a non-electrical clock and answer questions relating to time.|
|Meteorology (B)||Teams will answer questions based on meteorological concepts relating got this year's topic (Everyday Weather).|
|Mission Possible (B)||Prior to the competition teams will construct and document a Rube Goldberg machine-like device to perform a series of tasks based on simple machines.|
|Picture This (B)||Teams will take turns drawing science terms/concepts while the other team member guesses the term being drawn.|
|Protein Modeling (C)||Teams will model neurotransmitter proteins using physical and computer data and answer questions relating to these protein structures and function.|
|Reach for the Stars (B)||Teams will answer questions and solve problems based on the evolution of stars and be able to identify and answer questions about constellations, stars, and deep sky objects listed on the rules.|
|Road Scholar (B)||Teams will answer interpretive questions about topics listed on the rules based on one or more road maps, topographic maps, etc.|
|Robot Arm (C)||Prior to the competition teams will construct and document a robotic arm designed to move scoreable objects.|
|Scrambler (B)||Prior to the competition teams will construct and test a vehicle designed to carry an egg quickly toward a terminal barrier and stop close to the barrier.|
|Wind Power (B/C)||Prior to the competition teams will construct a windmill blade assembly (20 cm radius max(B) / 14 cm max radius(C)) attached to a compact disc to maximize power output and they will answer questions on alternative energy during the competition.|
|Wright Stuff (C)||Prior to the competition teams will construct a rubber-powered model plane with the design objective to achieve maximum time aloft in free flight.|
|Write It/Do It (B/C)||A technical writing exercise in which one student writes a description of a construction and another student attempts to recreate it using only the written description.|
Trial Events for C-Division the 2015-2016 school year
|Picture This C||Picture This is an event similar to Pictionary, except all words or phrases related to science. In Picture This, competitors have a maximum of 4 minutes to cover a set of 16 to 32 terms. Each person will take turns being a sketcher and guesser. Teams must have 2 people.|
|Quantam Quandries C|
|Mystery Design C12||Mystery Architecture is a trial event being run at the nationals competition for the 2016 season. In this event, teams are given materials such as straws, cups, string, tape, wooden dowels and other materials to build a structure. Structures that must be built have included cantilevers, towers, and bridges. Most of the structures are judged on height/distance spanned and are required to hold a specified amount|
|Remote Sensing C1||In Remote Sensing, teams will "use remote sensing imagery, science and math process skills to complete tasks related to an understanding of Earth's Hydrosphere."|
1Run at national competition
2Rules may be outdated
Events for the 2014-2015 school year
Please note that these are all C-Division events.
|Air Trajectory||Teams will build a device to launch a projectile to a target.|
|Anatomy & Physiology||This event encompasses the anatomy and physiology of selected body systems: this year limited to cardiovascular, immune, and integumentary systems.|
|Astronomy||Teams will demonstrate an understanding of the basic concepts of math and physics relating to stellar evolution and stellar formation.|
|Bio-Process Lab||Students demonstrate their knowledge of biology. It is a lab-oriented competition involving the fundamental science processes of a middle school science program (Middle School), and Introductory Biology (High School).>|
|Bridge Building||Students will build a wooden structure to span a 45 cm (Division C) or 35 cm (Division B) wide gap.|
|Bungee Drop||Students will design an elastic cord to drop a specified height.|
|Cell Biology||Students will demonstrate knowledge of cell biology and biochemistry.|
|Chemistry Lab||Teams will demonstrate chemistry laboratory skills related to stoichiometry and chemical kinetics.|
|Compound Machines||Students will construct a device and answer questions about simple and compound machines.|
|Disease Detectives||Students apply principles to scientific study of disease with focus on population growth.|
|Dynamic Planet||Teams will work on tasks with emphasis on oceanography.|
|Entomology||Students will identify and answer questions about insects by order and family.|
|Experimental Design||Teams will design, conduct, analyze and write-up an actual on site experiment.|
|Forensics||Teams will perform tests to solve a crime.|
|Fossils||Students will identify and answer questions about fossils.|
|Geologic Mapping||Teams will demonstrate use of topographic and geologic maps to evaluate geohazards and subsurface features.|
|Green Generation||Students will demonstrate an understanding of general ecological principles, human impact on the environment and possible solutions to harmful impact on the environment.|
|Its About Time||Teams will construct a non-electric clock and answer questions about time.|
|Mission Possible||Teams design, build and demonstrate a "Rube Goldberg" device.|
|Protein Modeling||Students will model proteins using "tools" used to edit the human genome.|
|Scrambler||Teams must construct a device to transport an egg.|
|Technical Problem Solving||Teams will gather and process data to solve problems in forensics.|
|Wright Stuff||Teams design, construct, and test a rubber powered model plane.|
|Write It/Do It||A technical writing exercise in which one student writes a description of a contraption and another student attempts to recreate it using only the written description.|
Events for the 2012-2013 school year
Note that some events are not included in the competition scores, as they are trial/pilot events.
|Anatomy (B)||Teams will be tested on their knowledge of anatomy and health concepts based on two pre-selected body systems. This year,the two are the nervous and integumentary systems.|
|Anatomy & Physiology (C)||This event encompasses the anatomy and physiology of selected body systems, this year limited to nervous, immune, and integumentary systems.|
|Astronomy (C)||Teams will demonstrate an understanding of the basic concepts of math and physics relating to stellar evolution and Type II supernovas.|
|Boomilever (B/C)||Students will build a cantilevered wooden structure.|
|Chemistry Lab (C)||Teams will demonstrate chemistry laboratory skills related to stoichiometry and equilibrium.|
|Circuit Lab (C)||Students will compete in theoretical and practical activities involving knowledge of direct current (DC) electrical circuits.|
|Crime Busters (B)||Teams will identify the perpetrators of a crime or crimes by using paper chromatography and analysis of unknown solids, liquids, and plastics found at the scene of a crime.|
|Designer Genes (C)||Students will solve problems using their knowledge of molecular genetics and biotechnology.|
|Disease Detective (B/C)||Requires students to apply principles of epidemiology to a published report of a real-life health situation or problem. (Environmental Quality)|
|Dynamic Planet (B/C)||Teams will work at stations that display a variety of earth science materials and related earth science questions. (Glaciers)|
|Elastic Launched Glider (C)||Students will design, build and test two elastic launched gliders capable of the highest time aloft.|
|Experimental Design (B/C)||Given a set of unknown objects, teams will design, conduct, analyse and write-up an experiment.|
|Fermi Questions (C)||A Fermi Question is a science related question that seeks a fast, rough estimate of a quantity which is difficult or impossible to measure directly. Answers will be estimated within an order of magnitude recorded in powers of 10.|
|Food Science (B)||Using their understanding of the chemistry and physical properties of baking ingredients, teams will answer questions at a series of stations.|
|Forensics (C)||Students will identify polymers, solids, fibres, and other materials in a crime scenario.|
|Forestry (B/C)||This event will test student knowledge of North American trees that are on the Official List.|
|Gravity Vehicle (C)||Teams design, build and test one vehicle and ramp that uses gravitational potential energy as the vehicle's sole means of propulsion to reach a Target Point as quickly, as accurately and as close to their predicted time as possible.|
|Helicopters (B)||Students will construct and test free flight rubber-powered helicopters prior to the tournament to achieve maximum flight times.|
|Heredity (B)||Students will solve problems and analyse data or diagrams using their knowledge of the basic principles of genetics.|
|Keep the Heat (B)||Teams must construct an insulated device prior to the tournament that is designed to retain heat. Students must also complete a written test on thermodynamic concepts.|
|MagLev (C)||Competitors may construct up to two self-propelled magnetically levitated vehicles powered by batteries that turn up to two propellers to move the vehicle down a magnetic track. Students will also be tested on their knowledge of magnetism and related topics.|
|Materials Science (C)||Teams will answer a series of questions or complete tasks involving the scientific processes of chemistry focused in the areas of materials science.|
|Meteorology (B)||This event involves the use of process skills as applied to meteorology.|
|Metric Mastery (B)||Students will demonstrate an intuitive feeling for estimating then measuring metric units including mass, volume, area, surface area, force, distance, time and temperature.|
|Mission Possible (B)||Prior to the competition, participants will design, build, test and document a "Rube Goldberg-like device" that completes a required Final Task using a sequence of consecutive tasks.|
|Mousetrap Vehicle (B)||Teams will design, build and test a vehicle using one mousetrap as the sole means of propulsion to reach a target as quickly, accurately and close to their predicted time as possible.|
|Reach for the Stars (B)||Students will demonstrate an understanding and basic knowledge of the properties and evolution of stars, open clusters and globular clusters, and normal and star-forming galaxies.|
|Remote Sensing (C)||Teams use remote sensing imagery, science and math process skills to complete tasks related to an understanding of Earth's Hydrosphere.|
|Road Scholar (B)||Requires the accurate interpretation and understanding of various map features using a variety of road and topographic maps.|
|Robot Arm (C)||Prior to the competition teams must design, build, document and test one robotic device to move scored items.|
|Rocks and Minerals (B/C)||Teams will demonstrate their knowledge of rocks and minerals.|
|Rotor Egg Drop (B)||A team will construct a helicopter device which uses one or more helicopter rotors to safely transport a raw chicken egg from a specified height to the floor.|
|Shock Value (B)||Students will compete in activities involving basic understanding of electricity, magnetism and simple electrical devices.|
|Sounds of Music (B)||Students will build two instruments based on a 12 tone tempered scale, prepare to describe the principles behind their operation and be able to perform a major scale, a required melody and a chosen melody with each.|
|Technical Problem Solving (C)||Teams will gather and process data to solve problems.|
|Thermodynamics (C)||Teams must construct an insulated device prior to the tournament that is designed to retain heat. Teams must also complete a written test on thermodynamic concepts.|
|Water Quality (B/C)||The event will focus on evaluating aquatic environments. (Freshwater/Estuaries)|
|Write It/Do It (B/C)||A technical writing exercise where students write a description of a contraption and other students will attempt to recreate it using only the written description.|
Trial/Pilot events are, at Regional and State tournaments, events that are specific to that state that are being considered as events for the next year. At Regionals and States, these events may count towards the team's score. At Nationals, however, there is a completely different set of Trial/Pilot events, sometimes known as "alternate events" because the people entering them do not have to be on the official team. These do not count towards the team's score, but ribbons and medals are usually awarded.
Distinction Between Trial and Pilot Events
The terms "trial event" and "pilot event" (also called "exploratory event") are sometimes interchangeable, both pertaining to an event that is not an official, national event for the year. However, at the National Tournament, there are often two differences. First, in 2010, it was announced that medals would only be awarded to the top 3 in the Trial events, but not at all in the Pilot events. Also, the Trial event are often much closer to becoming official events for following years than pilot events. Almost all of the Trial events from recent National tournaments have become official events within a few years of the tournament, while the same is not true for almost any of the pilot events.
Teams are hosted by the school from which the participants attend.
Science Olympiad is most often run as an after-school extracurricular activity, but some schools offer Science Olympiad classes that allow students to receive academic credit for participation. A teacher, parent, or student (usually a volunteer) coordinates the team in practice and preparation for the competition. Often there are others who coach individual events as well. A team can consist of up to 15 students and any number of alternates; some states allow more students per team. At the middle school level at nationals, only five ninth graders are allowed to compete on one team; at the high school level, only seven twelfth graders are allowed per team. However, for state competitions, the rules may often be different. Homeschool groups may also form teams to compete.
Although teams may have an unlimited number of alternates, it is implicitly stated within the rules that competitors present at the event must have completed all of the work on their event. This is specifically aimed at building events. It is illegal for teams to have their alternates as "builders" and their formal team members as "thinkers". Judges at the event are allowed to ask any question of the machine or contraption in an effort to keep the scenario above from occurring. Nonetheless, competitors, coaches, and entire teams are expected to have integrity and to abide by this rule.
A great deal of strategy usually goes into forming a team. Since events go on at the same time as other events during a competition and conflicts may occur, the coach or coordinator must make decisions based on the competitor's specialty and ability in order to correctly place him/her. Sometimes, usually during the reformation of competitors when a team advances a level, a competitor who wasn't originally planned to compete in a certain event may have to compete in it to fill the certain event slot.
The winner of the competition is determined by each team's overall score. Each school is ranked in every event based on that event's rules. For each type of event, the ranking differs. Knowledge events are scored by the correct number of answers; the team with the highest score will receive 1st place, the second highest will receive 2nd place, and so on. If two teams are tied, there are usually tiebreaker questions that apply only to those teams that are tied. The non-testing events are scored based off the individual requirements listed in the Science Olympiad rule book, released each year to reflect new events, requirements, and clarifications. Some events, such as the knowledge/testing-based will rank teams by using the highest scores. However others may use the lowest score. The team's overall score is then calculated by adding together the rank of the school in all events (e.g. 1st place receives 1 point, 2nd place 2 points, etc.). The team with the lowest overall score is declared the winner. However, it should be noted that some state competitions choose to score the competition by awarding more points per place (e.g. 13 points for 1st place, 12 points for 2nd place, etc.) and having the team with the most points being declared the winner.
There are several ways to break a tie (draw):
- One method for tie-breaking is based on medals where the team with more first place medals wins. If both teams have the same amount of first places, it moves to second place medals and so on. This is the method that the National Tournament uses.
- Before a competition, the event organizer decides on several events to be used as tie-breakers. If two teams get the same score overall, the team that rates highest in that one event will take the lead.
- A third way of tie-breaking is to use a team's score in trial/pilot events. The team with the best combined score in trial events would win the competition when this method is used.
- In some competitions, there also may questions added into event, labeled as tie-breakers. If needed, these questions can be used as tie breakers, although this type of tie-breaker is generally for only the event and not the overall rank.
Science Olympiad competitions occur at the regional, state and national level. Normally, the top few teams advance from the regional level to state competition, the exact number depending on how many regions there are and how many teams compete. For example, the regional Science Olympiad competition in Albany, New York will typically send the top three finishing teams to the New York state competition. However, an additional team or teams can be sent to the state competition if one of the top three has been victorious (or has gone to the state competition) multiple times in a row. In most states, the top team advances from the state to the national competition. Some states with a larger number of teams are allotted a second spot at the national competition to represent their larger participation. Currently, 120 teams compete at the national level each year (60 from Division B and 60 from Division C); the number has changed over the years to accommodate growing participation.
Many states also hold invitational tournaments. These competitions serve as "practice rounds" for qualifying tournaments, and are hosted by individual middle schools, high schools and/or colleges. These are also often organized by schools themselves and usually occur some time in January or February. Teams can participate in invitationals from multiple states depending on availability. At some invitationals, only a few events are held. However, many invitational tournaments mimic regional and state competitions in their competitive intensity. For example, Solon Middle School holds an invitational each year that fields about 60 teams, including 6-7 past national qualifiers. In this way, teams can gain extra practice before competing in regional, state, or national tournaments. In 2014, Yale University became the first institution of higher education to host a tournament run by Science Olympiad alumni, followed in January 2015 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cornell University.
The National Science Olympiad competition is held in late May at a different university every year. Teams compete at the state competition with the top two schools in Division B and Division C each earning a spot at the national competition. Some states are given a second slot, based on the membership within the division. The total number of invited teams in each division is equal to 60 and the national tournament hosts 120 teams. In 2012, at the University of Central Florida, a team from Japan was invited as a Global Ambassador Team. Although they competed in several events, their scores were not tallied against the state teams.
The competition officially begins with opening ceremonies on Friday night that usually include a notable speaker, such as a Nobel Laureate. A traditional Swap Meet follows the opening ceremonies which is an opportunity for teams to meet and greet. They bring state memorabilia to trade with other teams. The most popular items include hats, license plates, T-shirts, and key chains.
Saturday includes several time blocks. Each block includes a 60-minute section for each study event, plus a 15-minute break time for competitors to get from one event to another.
That night, a formal Awards Ceremony is held. It opens with a short speech followed by awarding medals for the top six teams in each event. Points for all the events are added together to determine an overall national team winner. The trial events are not included in this tally. The top ten teams in each division are recognized with trophies and plaques.
In some national tournaments, scholarships are awarded to the top teams in each event. For the 2005 and 2010 competitions, held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, first-place event winners received full four-year tuition waivers to the university. At the 2006 National Tournament, host Indiana University awarded $7,000 annual scholarships to those who finished first place in Division C and who attend the university in their freshman year. The George Washington University offered Division C gold medalists at its 2008 National Tournament a $20,000 stipend for those who were accepted and attended GWU. In 2012, the University of Central Florida offered $30,000 scholarships to the university for first place medalists in Division C. Additional awards may also provided by sponsors and industry leaders for specific events. For example, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention provided first place medalists in Disease Detectives (Divisions B & C) with a trip for the two competitors and their coach to tour the CDC facility in Atlanta, Georgia.
National Locations and Champions
|Division B||Division C|
|1985||Michigan State University||Slauson Intermediate School||MI||Seaholm High School||MI|
|1986||Michigan State University||Slauson Intermediate School||MI||Seaholm High School||MI|
|1987||Ohio State University||Gompers Secondary School||CA||Irmo High School||SC|
|1988||Delaware State University||Irmo Middle School||SC||Haverford High School||PA|
|1989||University of Colorado, Boulder||Irmo Middle School||SC||Irmo High School||SC|
|1990||Clarion University||Irmo Middle School||SC||Irmo High School||SC|
|1991||Penn Valley Community College||Grandville Junior High School||MI||La Jolla High School||CA|
|1992||Auburn University||Jenison Junior High School||MI||La Jolla High School||CA|
|1993||University of Southern Colorado||Thomas Jefferson Middle School||IN||Grand Haven High School||MI|
|1994||University of Arizona||State College Junior High School||PA||Grand Haven High School||MI|
|1995||Indiana University||State College Junior High School||PA||Harriton High School||PA|
|1996||Georgia Institute of Technology||Thomas Jefferson Middle School||IN||Troy High School||CA|
|1997||North Carolina State University||J.C. Booth Middle School||GA||Grand Haven High School||MI|
|1998||Grand Valley State University||J.C. Booth Middle School||GA||Solon High School||OH|
|1999||Chicago Museums and University of Chicago||J.C. Booth Middle School||GA||Troy High School||CA|
|2000||Eastern Washington University||J.C. Booth Middle School||GA||Troy High School||CA|
|2001||University of Colorado, Colorado Springs||J.C. Booth Middle School||GA||Harriton High School||PA|
|2002||University of Delaware||Rising Starr Middle School||GA||Troy High School||CA|
|2003||Ohio State University||J.C. Booth Middle School||GA||Troy High School||CA|
|2004||Juniata College||J.C. Booth Middle School||GA||Fayetteville-Manlius High School||NY|
|2005||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||Community Middle School||NJ||Harriton High School||PA|
|2006||Indiana University, Bloomington||J.C. Booth Middle School||GA||Troy High School||CA|
|2007||Wichita State University||Community Middle School||NJ||Troy High School||CA|
|2008||The George Washington University||Solon Middle School||OH||Troy High School||CA|
|2009||Augusta State University||Solon Middle School||OH||Centerville High School||OH|
|2010||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||Solon Middle School||OH||Centerville High School||OH|
|2011||University of Wisconsin–Madison||Solon Middle School||OH||Solon High School||OH|
|2012||University of Central Florida||Solon Middle School||OH||Solon High School||OH|
|2013||Wright State University||Solon Middle School||OH||Solon High School||OH|
|2014||University of Central Florida||Beckendorff Junior High School||TX||Troy High School||CA|
|2015||University of Nebraska–Lincoln||Solon Middle School||OH||Troy High School||CA|
|2016||University of Wisconsin–Stout||Daniel Wright Junior High School||IL||Mira Loma High School||CA|
|2017||Wright State University||To be held May 20, 2017|
|2018||Colorado State University|
List of National Championships by School
|Rank||School||No. of Championships||Years|
|1||J.C. Booth M.S. (GA)||8||1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006|
|2||Solon M.S. (OH)||7||2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015|
|3||Irmo M.S. (SC)||3||1988, 1989, 1990|
|4||Slauson I.S. (MI)||2||1985, 1986|
|Thomas Jefferson M.S. (IN)||2||1993, 1996|
|State College J.H.S. (PA)||2||1994, 1995|
|Community M.S. (NJ)||2||2005, 2007|
|8||Gompers S.S. (CA)||1||1987|
|Grandville J.H.S. (MI)||1||1991|
|Jenison J.H.S. (MI)||1||1992|
|Rising Starr M.S. (GA)||1||2002|
|Beckendorff J.H.S. (TX)||1||2014|
|Daniel Wright J.H.S. (IL)||1||2016|
|Rank||School||No. of Championships||Years|
|1||Troy H.S. (CA)||10||1996, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2014, 2015|
|2||Solon H.S. (OH)||4||1998, 2011, 2012, 2013|
|3||Grand Haven H.S. (MI)||3||1993, 1994, 1997|
|Harriton H.S. (PA)||3||1995, 2001, 2005|
|Irmo H.S. (SC)||3||1987, 1989, 1990|
|6||Seaholm H.S. (MI)||2||1985, 1986|
|La Jolla H.S. (CA)||2||1991, 1992|
|Centerville H.S. (OH)||2||2009, 2010|
|9||Haverford H.S. (PA)||1||1988|
|Fayetteville-Manilus H.S. (NY)||1||2004|
|Mira Loma H.S. (CA)||1||2016|
List of States by Number of National Tournaments Hosted
|Rank||State||No. of Tournaments Hosted|
Five universities have hosted the National Tournament twice: Michigan State University, Ohio State University, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, Indiana University-Bloomington, and University of Central Florida. So far, no university has hosted the National Tournament three times.
Schools which wish to start a Science Olympiad program at their school can take advantage of the resources offered on the National Science Olympiad website. There is no National membership fee required to participate in Elementary Division activities. An appropriate program will depend upon the objectives and resources of the local school or community. Programs can range from a Fun Night  to a large competitive tournament. Some Elementary programs have existed as long as the National program, and have developed additional resources that schools may find helpful.
- 2013 Science Olympiad Membership Map
- Science Olympiad History
- Science Olympiad Invitational Tournaments
- Journal of Chemical Education- Student Recruitment Through a Science Olympiad
- Science Olympiad Tournament at St. Andrew's Presbyterian College
- Delaware Science Olympiad
- Science Olympiad History
- Science Olympiad National Tournament 2012
- Divisions Science Olympiad Divisions
- Event Descriptions
- http://www.sciencenc.com/events.php#b North Carolina-specific events Division B
- http://www.sciencenc.com/events.php#c North Carolina-specific events Division C
- "Short Event Descriptions". Science Olympiad. 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
- Division B Rules Manual, Science Olympiad, Inc. 2016
- Division C Rules Manual, Science Olympiad, Inc. 2016
- Division C Rules Manual, Science Olympiad, Inc. 2015
- National Tournament Winners
- Future Tournament Locations
- https://www.wright.edu/event/science-olympiad-2017 Wright State Science Olympiad National Tournament 2017
Macomb Science Olympiad / Southeast Michigan Region 7 Division B&C, Macomb and St. Clair counties Division A, Website http://MacombSO.org