This is it. All your years in Science Olympiad have culminated to this - the final stretch. It’s your last year to make it count, whether that be by winning, making new friendships, growing existing bonds, or challenging yourself intellectually and emotionally. You realize now that in the blink of an eye it all happened, and happened too fast. You’ll start the year with apprehensive enthusiasm because you know the journey from start to finish will be a bittersweet one. You’ll remind yourself to savor every last second of it so that you don’t miss a single laugh, cry, hug, cheer, epiphany, splinter, t-shirt design vote, or paper cut. Yet at the end of it all, you’ll still feel like you missed something, and that feeling of missing something will never go away for weeks - maybe even months or years - after your last competition.
For some of you it will be the seventh year of involvement in Scioly, and for others only the second. But that doesn’t matter when it comes to expressing exactly how much you love this organization and how much you’re going to miss it. When someone asks you, “How much do you love Science Olympiad?” you don’t answer with “I’ve loved it for five years - since seventh grade.” No. You answer by saying how much heart and soul you put into your cheat sheets, how many after school hours you reserve for the team, how early you wake up and how late you stay at school to study, how many pounds of sawdust you inhale per week, how numb your fingers get from tabbing reference books, how chalky your hands are from handling mineral specimens, and how much pride you wear with your team t shirt at competition and even outside of competition.
If there’s one thing that’s absolutely undeniably true, it’s that everyone reading this loves Science Olympiad and will unavoidably miss it dearly after graduating high school. Some will be lucky enough to find a collegiate Science Olympiad presence on their undergraduate campus, but many others will unfortunately not. All, however, will forever be proud Science Olympiad alumni who will have left their mark as esteemed individuals, leaders, students, and - most importantly - friends.
Hey! I need your help! My team hasnt been doing as well as it can the past few years. I'm planning on running for president this upcoming season, but I really need help with how to organize and motivate the team. Do you have any suggestions that will help us become a better, more dedicated, and more prepared team? Thanks a bunch!
Ahhhhh my club is struggling with this too :( but the nice thing about Scioly is that every year is a fresh start so kudos to you for taking that first step in making a difference for next year!
I think the key to a great team is a great foundation - a solid team of students who are studious yet at the same time amicable. These two qualities are SUPER IMPORTANT in Scioly because it is, after all, an interscholastic competition-based club as well as a team-based competition.
A lot of schools, including mine, implement some sort of tryout system in the beginning of the year to organize the team. Tryouts may consist of mock tests similar to actual regional/state/national tests, and sometimes schools just find tests from past competitions to use for tryouts. I personally favor the former option because there’s no risk of people having an unfair advantage if they found copies of past tests online.
The tryout process in my school consists of written tests for most of the twenty-something Science Olympiad events for the year. We (the board of the club) make each test ourselves and try to imitate the real tests as best as possible. It’s an arduous process, but it’s the most fair/efficient way of forming a 45-person team out of the near hundred people who try out every year. If you want, I can give you specifics about the tryout process. Just message me! :)
We also supplement the tryout tests with a short survey asking each person’s prior scioly involvement, dedication levels, courses taken, reasons why he/she is interested in joining, personal goals, etc. This makes the whole tryout process a little more holistic and not as empirical. I like using this supplement because it helps us find those who are both studious and fit to be a real team member. My biggest pet peeve about these tryouts is when people make the team who are terrible team members because they’re either just in the club to write their membership on their college resumes or they just have horrible sportsmanship. It’s important that during your tryout process you remember that you’re building a team to make states and nationals - not just a group of individuals who are good at taking tests.
And the nice thing about this test-taking tryout is that you already have a good idea of people’s strengths/weaknesses and event interests when you assign people their events. So, for example, if you need to assign someone to cover Disease Detectives, you can just look at the tryout results and see who scored highest on the tryout Disease Detectives test.
All of this tryout stuff should be done before your region’s regional event schedule comes out, and you should assign specific events to those who made tryouts after the even schedule comes out. You want to do tryouts asap so that you don’t waste any time and so that you can assign events as soon as the schedule comes out. I guess you can assign events before the schedule comes out, but you probably don’t want to risk having to re-assign events if you find that some event times conflict according to the schedule.
Motivation is definitely a key component in a competitive team and I know that, for my own team especially, it’s hard to really hunker down and study all these intimidating scioly events for hours upon hours. We try to get people to stay after school until 9-10pm (must thank my super dedicated Scioly advisors for staying so late after school) so that people have a place to focus on studying, and builders are usually the ones who stay the latest because building in school tends to be easier than building at home. The after school atmosphere is a pretty relaxed one despite all the studying going on and everyone always takes fun breaks to just talk/eat dinner. We always order some pizza or Chinese takeout for dinner, which we usually eat together as a team. Staying so late after school is great because it creates this little community of studiers/builders that motivate each other so it’s both a great studying/building opportunity as well as a great team-building opportunity. The only hard part is getting your advisor to stay after school so late!
From tryouts to regionals your team should be studying whenever they get the chance. In my opinion, 2 hours of serious/worthwhile studying every week from tryouts to regionals should be more than enough. But, of course it all depends on how well people study, how good people’s studying resources are, etc. Try to scavenge the internet for past exams/mock exams made by others. You’ll find a bunch if you look hard enough, and share the ones you find with your team. Scioly.org and Soinc.org are the first sites you should hit for resources, and make sure you remind your team to look at these sites carefully because I often find amazing resources in little side links on the soinc website and in the forums of the Scioly wiki site. The scioly.org wiki is especially helpful for builders who want to see what others have built in past years. Try to get your team to make scioly wiki accounts so they can ask questions in the forum and access all the features that the wiki has to offer! Throughout the year I’ll also post some good sources on the blog so check back for those!
Try to periodically administer mock exams for your team also. Try to reserve a day or two after school every now and then to host mock competitions with either real past exams or new originally-made ones. Create station-by-station tests for the events that typically utilize stations at competition (Rocks & minerals and ento) - anything and everything to simulate a real-test scenario as best as possible. This too will be challenging to set up, but it’ll be worth it if you really want to excel and make states and nationals.
Make firm deadlines for studying/building expectations to ensure readiness and preparedness for your competition! This is probably everyone’s, including my, least favorite part about being in a competition-based club. Remind the team that the only way to succeed as a team is if everyone does their part in studying/building and making sure they’re prepared. Set dates throughout the year so that people know where they should be in terms of studying/building. For example, before Christmas vacation everyone should have been assigned their events and partners, and people should be planning dates/time over Christmas break to meet up with their partners to study and build. Hosting mock competitions before regionals should help with this. I also suggest attending an invitationals before regionals so that your team can get a taste of the competition before regionals.
I would make a club website (if you don’t already have one) where you can post all of the club’s important information - contact info, important dates/deadlines, tryout dates, competition dates, and resources. A website or Facebook group is really convenient for posting good resources and all other important information, and Facebook especially is a great way for event partners to communicate. Also make sure you have an email list of all your team members so you can communicate with everyone, including those not on Facebook.
Fundraising!!!! Fundraising is super important in Scioly, especially when textbooks and building materials can get costly after a while. See my previous post about fundraising here:
Also try to host some team-oriented events like team dinners at a local favorite restaurant, beach days, team bbq’s, etc. My team has team dinners every now and then and they’re always a huge success. These team-building events are extremely important - as important as studying, in my opinion - because when people feel a sense of community and camaraderie with their team they automatically become that much more motivated to win since they’re no longer winning for only themselves anymore; they’re winning for their team as a team.
»Hope all that helped! Please message me if you have any questions! And if any other followers have their own suggestions please feel free to submit them to the blog!
Best of luck to you and your team! <3 Update us when you can!
So yesterday was the Western Long Island regional Science Olympiad Division C competition held at Kellenberg Memorial, and it was AWESOME.
It was crazy/exhilarating/terrifying/amazing/superfun/incredible and I honestly don’t know where to start so let me just go chronologically :)
We [We=Great Neck South High School!] arrived at Kellenberg at approximately 7:45 and set up our home base in the cafeteria. We weren’t given a room this year for a home base because last year “we touched computers” and that was against the rules apparently so they punished us this year by not giving us a room, but honestly, being in the cafe might have been an advantage because we had more space to test/work on building events and stuff. Well anyways it was a blast and we still decorated our side of the cafe with blue and orange :)
My first event was Disease Detectives at 8:30 and OHMYGOD THAT TEST WAS RIDICULOUS. Instead of an insanely easy common sense type of test this one had so much math and weirdly worded questions asdfghjk and instead of several scenarios of disease outbreaks we were given only ONE giant and complicated scenario so it was tough to split the work with my partner. We got 26th place which isn’t at all stellar, but it’s top 30 out of the 75ish teams that were there so we were at least satisfied with our performance.
Next there was Elastic Launched Glider at 10:30, but I got there at 10ish to see our C team test theirs. Theirs was really good and they ended up getting 5th place! My partner and I tested ours soon after and the only thing that went wrong was that we called our best flight a practice flight instead of an official flight, but we received 6th place so I don’t think I can complain :) and i really just need to give my partner a shout-out here because she built a brand new plane the night before regionals by herself since she finished studying for her other events, and if i remember correctly it was that plane that had the longest flight time.
My last event was Rocks and Minerals, and that test was hard/stressful as always, except what was weird about this year’s test was that there were so many specimens that were repeated throughout all the stations. My partner and I got 11th which is pretty decent, but I’m still a little upset with our performance in this event because I really thought we were gonna make top 8 :( anyways, our A and C teams medaled in this event, and honestly they really deserve it for all of their hard work :)
During regionals I also got to see some of you followers which was one of the highlights of my day, and I know a bunch of you guys medaled so CONGRATULATIONS!!!! :D
Overall I’m really happy for my school because we did “FREAKING AMAZING,” as said by my Scioly club advisor, and our A team AND B TEAM qualified for states this year!!!!!
Ok now that I have explained my personal experience let me take the time now to try to explain all the craziness that went on with our team…
Great Neck South A got SECOND PLACE at regionals with a total of 97 points and 16 medals, and Great Neck South B got SIXTH PLACE with a total of 166 points and 10 medals! However, each school is only allowed to send one team to states so our B team will not be attending states. One other team, Syosset B, qualified for states also making this year a historical year for Western Long Island… but hold on, there’s more :)
Not only is this year historical because of the two B teams that qualified for states; it’s also historical because our region (Western Long Island) is now going to be split up into TWO regions!!! The western half of Western Long Island will still be at Kellenberg Memorial next year, but the Eastern half will be at Syosset for regionals. Crazy, right?
This year is also historical for GNS as a team because 1) as I stated before our B team qualled for states and 2) making states this year was a total surprise because our A team honestly thought they wouldn’t make it, BUT THEY DID!!! I’m so proud of my team for showing how much hard work can pay off, and I love them to death <3 My team means the world to me and I have nobody to thank but them as well as my amazing scioly club advisors for making this year the best year ever. This was a team effort, and we totally showed all of Western Long Island what a team really is. This year was so amazing and right now the only word to describe my life is bittersweet because I’m so sad it’s over yet at the same time I’m extremely proud :) Now we get to help and support A team prep for states!