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We would be delighted to have you start a Science Olympiad team in your school to share the excitement and successes that have been experienced at Science Olympiad Tournaments all across the country. You will be joining more than 16,000 K-12 schools that participated in last year's Science Olympiad Tournaments.

What Is Science Olympiad?
Science Olympiad Successes
Cooperation and Competition
Divisions/Grade Levels/Team Limit

What Is Science Olympiad?

Science Olympiad is an international non-profit 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. These goals are accomplished through classroom activities, research, training workshops and the encouragement of intramural, district, regional, state and national tournaments. Science Olympiad tournaments are rigorous academic interscholastic competitions that consist of a series of team events, which students prepare for during the year. These challenging and motivational events are well balanced between the various science disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and technology. There is also a balance between events requiring knowledge of science concepts, process skills and science applications. In addition, during the day there are open house activities that consist of science and mathematics demonstrations, activities and career counseling sessions conducted by professors and scientists at the host institution occurring concurrently with the events.

Many states and regions have organized physics, biology or chemistry competitions, 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. 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.

Science Olympiad Successes

The Science Olympiad is modeled after successful Science Olympiad tournaments held in Delaware and Michigan that were introduced by Dr. Gerard J. Putz, Regional Science Center Director, Macomb Intermediate School District in Michigan and Jack Cairns, Science Supervisor, Delaware Department of Public Instruction. In these states, the following observations have been made:

If success can be measured by the number of students attending the competition, then the Science Olympiads are successful. Attendance has increased each year in both states. In Michigan, attendance increased from 600 students participating the first year to over two million currently. In Delaware, 95% of the public secondary schools participate. After students attend Science Olympiad for the first time, they usually return each year until they graduate from high school. If success can be measured by increasing science enrollments at home schools at a time of falling enrollments, then Science Olympiads are successful. Many schools report increased student interest in science and increased enrollment in science classes. Some schools have reported a doubling of science class enrollments and a need to hire more science teachers. If success can be measured by the number of science teachers across the nation that support the effort, then the Science Olympiad is successful. Last year, more than 16,000 elementary and secondary schools participated in the Science Olympiad programs.

All events require teamwork, group planning and cooperation. The emphasis is on learning, participation, interaction, having fun and developing team spirit. Coaches and students are reminded of the words of Bill Koch (Olympic Cross Country Ski medal winner), who said, "Winning isn't everything. The striving for excellence is - it's the trying and the caring that is important - winning is a bonus."

Cooperation and Competition

The Science Olympiad Steering Committee concurs with research done by Drs. David and Roger Johnson, Dr. Madeline Hunter, Dr. Benjamin Bloom and Dr. Harry Wong that cooperation and teamwork, practicing toward an objective, improving skills through competition and making learning exciting through motivational activities are essential ingredients in attaining academic excellence. Dr. Bloom, in an article titled, "Talent Development vs. Schooling," described the process by which individuals reached extremely high levels of accomplishment. One of his conclusions was that competitions played a major role in the success of each talent area participant. "In each talent field there are frequent events (recitals, contests, concerts) in which the child's special capabilities are displayed publicly, and there are significant rewards and approval for meritorious accomplishments." He said children are spurred to greater learning efforts in anticipation of the public event and that such public events are a means of making the child's progress and development real and important. He concluded that they also bring participants into direct contact with one another and provide opportunities to exchange experiences and to observe and get to know outstanding peer and adult models of the talent.

Other research conducted by Calvin W. Taylor of the University of Utah has concluded, "Extra-curricular training experiences and accomplishments do show noticeable predictive power of later adult performance, achievement, and accomplishments." The value and implication of being involved in such extra-curricular activities as the Science Olympiad is apparent for developing productive high performing adults. With regard to predicting college success other than SAT scores and school grades, Educational Testing Service observed that "productive follow-through" defined as "persistent and successful extra-curricular accomplishment" indeed was the strongest predictor of leadership and significant independent accomplishment and clearly useful in predicting most overall college success.

Divisions/Grade Levels/Team Limits

Currently, there are three Science Olympiad Divisions:

  • Division A (Grades K-6)
  • Division B (Grades 6-9)
  • Division C (Grades 9-12)

Students on the team must be from the membership school; and a school is considered to be a separate school if it has a separate administrator. [See individual state Science Olympiad web sites for registration information] Recruiting from neighboring schools, districts, counties or states is not permitted. If you are home-educated or attend a virtual school, please see team qualification requirements under the national Home and Virtual School Policy. Any student can compete at only one Division level (either Division B or C, not both) at a single school.

Division C Team Membership Rules

A team may have up to fifteen (15) members. A maximum of seven (7) 12th grade students is permitted on a Division C team.

Division B Team Membership Rules

A team may have up to fifteen (15) members. A maximum of five (5) 9th grade students is permitted on a Division B team. Because middle schools that do not have grades 7, 8 or 9 are at a slight disadvantage, they may invite any combination of up to five (5) of their last year's 6th, 7th or 8th grade students to be part of the team. Possible examples/scenarios:

  • A school with grades X-9 can only have 5 students from grade 9 (in their current enrollment)
  • A school with grades X-8 can only bring back 5 students from grade 9 (from the previous year's enrollment of 8th grade students)
  • A school with grades X-7 can only bring back 5 students from grade 8 or 9 (who had been previously enrolled in that school as a 7th grade student)
  • A school with grades X-6 can only bring back 5 students from grades 7, 8 or 9 (who had been previously enrolled in that school as a 6th grader)

Elementary Science Olympiad

Each school participating in Elementary Science Olympiad Competitive Tournaments or Fun Day/Fun Night events must make a one-time purchase of an Elementary Science Olympiad Manual. There is no national tournament or national membership fee for Division A elementary schools. Once an Elementary Science Olympiad manual is purchased, educators may initiate local, school district or regional competitions.

Students Below Grade Level Designations

Science Olympiad encourages students to participate in the Division that matches current Science Olympiad grade level designations. However, to support the inclusion of students who wish to participate in Science Olympiad, schools with grade levels lower than those stated in a Division are permitted to invite members below the grade level designations. (A K-8 school could enlist a Division B team of all 5th graders) Participation is limited to age-appropriate events (as determined by a coach, principal or tournament director) and prohibited where safety is a concern (such as the use of chemicals).