Start a Team
Getting a Science Olympiad team going in your school is easy! (Check out your individual state Science Olympiad web site for Registration information) First, find some like-minded students willing to flex their academic muscles and form a group. Ask a science, math, tech or computing teacher in your school to coach the team. See if the principal or your school district has funding for a science extracurricular activity. Get a few parents to help out with scheduling, rides to the library, contacting experts. That's pretty much it. Now you just have to study for 23 of the most challenging events covering all the science you've ever and never learned.
But seriously, if you have a jones for science and you just can't get enough, Science Olympiad is where you need to be. Here are a few tips to get you up and running -- in a year, you'll be on your way to filling the school trophy case with gleaming Science Olympiad medals.
Advice for Teachers
With everything you do for your students, it's wonderful that you're considering becoming a Science Olympiad coach. A basic recipe to follow:
At the beginning of the school year, ask your principal or PTA president for funding for a science extracurricular activity. Tell them you are volunteering to be the coach, and hold an information meeting at PTA, or call a parent/student session in the auditorium. Show a Science Olympiad DVD, put up the list of events for the year with short descriptions, and ask kids to ascertain their interest in the 23 events. Some teachers post lists around the room and have kids sign up for as many events as they find interesting. Once you've got team and parent interest, you're ready to go. Set up a practice schedule -- maybe once every other week to start. Assign kids to events, and begin preparations.
Depending on your level of expectation from your team, plan accordingly. Normally, in the first year, it's exciting just to attend a regional tournament. The kids can get their feet wet, see what it's like at a real competition, and scope out the other teams. Plan to meet once a week or more in the months leading up to the tournament. Schedule some study sessions outside of school on the weekends, but remember to put the responsibility for the team in the students' hands -- after all, it's their team and their work. If you want to be a state tournament contender in your first year, you'll need some qualified teachers and outside expert help to help coach the students. You might ask the principal or the PTA for a slightly higher budget for more materials.
Advice for Students
So you and your friends love science and want to get a team going. What to do? First, go to your favorite science, math, computer or industrial tech teacher and say, please! We'd like to get a Science Olympiad team going! If you can get a teacher to sign on, you've cleared the first hurdle. Then, you need to recruit, recruit, recruit. There's no question that most potential Science Olympiad team members will be busy with several activities -- drama, sports, advanced classes, hobbies, music -- but you've got to get them to realize that Science Olympiad will only enhance their academic (and social!) lives.
Take it from Julia in Colorado, who said: "I chose to study mechanical engineering because of Science Olympiad. It was my most important and time-consuming extracurricular activity throughout high school. I met a lot of my closest friends through the SO team. It was a wonderful experience and my favorite part of high school!" Or consider what Kelly from Pennsylvania said: "Science Olympiad taught me so many things from chemistry and epidemiology to responsibility and determination. Everything I've done in Science Olympiad has been a learning experience. The events have greatly impacted my career choice an now I'm looking into majoring in chemistry."
Take a look at the events for the year and see if you and your friends can fill out the roster of 23 challenges with a team of 15 students. Get kids who can build from the industrial tech class, those who are great at research for the knowledge events, some who are great in the lab for all the chemistry events. Mix up your skills and cross-train for maximum results.
Don't forget about school spirit. Make your Science Olympiad team known. Get the principal to make an announcement before you go to competition. Wear your team T-shirts to school, hang up banners, make posters. Before you know it, you'll be bringing home the bling.
Advice for Parents
If your child's school does not have a Science Olympiad team, as a parent, you can be a great cheerleader to get the initiative going. Try to gather a small group of parents who are interested in volunteering and contact the school principal with your desire to form a team. While it's best to have the support, backing and organizational skill of the school behind any Science Olympiad team, it is possible for parents to coach a team. Most teams have several parent coaches!
Listen to Sheila from Ohio: "I am a mother of three who has always had a passion for science. I am as involved as I could be in Science Olympiad! This is my 4th year coaching the team. I've been offered teaching positions but I've declined because it would take time away from coaching the kids! All three of my children are on Science Olympiad teams and have ambitions to be an aeronautical engineer, a marine biologist and a geologist." Or Cindy from Arizona: "I have a masters in Zoology. I got involved in Science Olympiad because our school requires parent participation hours and coaches were needed. Once I got into it I was hooked!" Follow their lead and get a team going today.