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Q & A

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1. May one student do a two (or three) person event?

Yes.  One student may do an event that calls for two or three students.  The event descriptions read, "Up to two students," or "Up to three students."  (The emphasis is mine.)

2. Group Assignments:

If a school has more than one team, all teams from the same school compete at the same time.  Think about it.  If a team from a school with multiple teams had one team go first, that team could then come and tell the remaining teams all about the test.  So, all teams from the same school take the test at the same time. 

3. How many events one student allowed to do?

As many as he/she is able to fit into the schedule.  There are, essentially, five time slots.  Unfortunately, it does take some time to do the construction events.  We are working on that this year.  A lot.  We do not want to have students waiting in line for a long time at the walk-in events.  One thing that you can do is to have another student get in line and hold the place - if it is taking a long time to get to the front of the line.

4. Scoring

Each team is scored independently of all other teams.  So, if you have more than one team from your school, it makes sense to weight one team with the students that you think are likely to do better than the others so that you can get one good team score.  Let's say that you have three teams, A, B & C.  If team B finishes with the highest point total of your three teams, then, at the end of the Competition, B's point total will represent your school when we hand out the trophies to the schools.  All students from the school come up to receive the trophy - we give trophies to the top 10 schools in each Division.

One of the important things about the teams is that you may be incorrect about who the strongest students are in some of the events.  I call it Revenge of the Underdog.  For instance, Team A's score in Dynamic Planet may be higher than Team B's score in that event.  This is interesting to note for the future, and - if your school is invited to the State Competition - last year the top 5 C teams and top 8 B teams were invited - because when you make up the one, 15-member team for State,  you will use the results from the Regional.  You don't just take the Team B that you assembled for the Regionals.  You take the students who performed the best at Regionals so that 1. you have the best possible team at State, and 2. the parents and students realize that there is some logic to this process.

If your school is not invited to the State Competition this year, the results are still useful for next year when you make up one strong team to compete at Regionals.  Also, students will not resent being on one of the lesser teams if they know that they can outscore the students on the supposedly strongest team and show everyone that they were wrong.

 4. Does each team have to enter every event?

No.  However, it's a good idea if you have only one team because then you get information back from the students about every event and you can use that information next year.  If you have more than one team, your stronger(est) team should enter all events.

5. What is the tie-breaker for Scrambler?

The Performance Value of the second run.

 "If the egg transport is placed diagonally to fit in the cube, it must be launched from that position."  I assume that this means that the cube will have one of its sides parallel to the starting line.  Is that assumption correct?

Yes, we have always assumed that, and have never explicitly stated it.

 6. I need to ask the Rocks and Minerals coordinator a question about the rock kit. The kit I received only has 50 samples. The coaching manual and other material refers to many more. I need to know if I am missing any?

The kit has what it has.  You are not missing any.  You also have a book about rocks and minerals.  It discusses many more.  You also have access to the Natural History Museum and can go there and see whatever specimens are on view.  Your students need to know about all of the rocks and minerals that are listed on the national web page - http://www.soinc.org/events/rocksnmin/rocklist06.htm  The event description in the coaches manual recommends a different rock kit and a different rock book.  Our event captain, with her PhD in geology, thinks that the kits and books that we got for you are superior to the ones recommended in the catalogue.  You are, of course, welcome to order those other materials for yourself.

 7. One of my volunteers would like to know what kind of balances the kids will be using in Balloon Race?

The event description lists three different types. The event captain feels that the students should practice and/or know how to use all three balance types.  I do not know if all of you have access to the three different types of scales.  Let me know about this.  If all of you have only one type, then for a Regional event, it makes sense to let you know which type of balance we will be using.  Click here for more related Questions

8. What are the guidelines for parental assistance with the devices that are built at home?

Great question - one we wrestle with all the time. Of course, we would like to have the students do all of the construction on their devices, perhaps using the occasional parental or coach suggestion. 

Honestly, we have no way to enforce this. The best that we can do - and we do this - is to have the event captains ask the students about their devices when they get ready to run them. However, there are no points involved and some people are not especially loquacious even if they did build the thing all by themselves.

So, we state very strongly that the devices are to be made solely by the students with coaching guidance and suggestions allowed. Only the students should do the actual construction. But, it is probably OK at the middle school level for a parent to machine a part that the students have designed. If machining is necessary.

My experience over the years has been that the slickest devices, ones with machined parts and fancy carrying cases, come in far behind the clunky looking devices that are made with whatever was available and a lot of thought and ingenuity.

9. What about the flaming tests in "Can't Judge a Powder by it's color"?

 We don't usually do flame tests because of the difficulty of supervising them, especially for Div B.

The tubes that I will be bringing are 16x100 mm tubes, though most off-the-shelf racks are designed to fit anything from a 13x100 to a 18x125. Doesn't really matter, but if it helps...


10. What about the test contains in "Heredity"?

This is a new event.  It will be written by the man who was the event captain for its sister event, Designer Genes C, last year.  He teaches at UCSD Medical School .  It will probably be a lot of multiple choice questions.  With 59 Div B teams, we need something that is easy to grade.  I do not know anything about the content other than what you know from the event description.  The event captain wrote a good test for Div C last year, and I have confidence in his doing the same for Div B this year.

11. Where will be the place the event "Balloon Race" is going to be conducted?

Rosemary and I are working on the room assignments for the Competition, and we think that Balloon Race will be in Room 100. The ceiling in the front of the room - where they will launch their balloons from the floor, is 11 ft high.  We would love to have a place with a higher ceiling, but we don't.  Rosemary and I are still considering another location as well.

12. Walk-in Events

Walk-in events are just that.  The teams show up whenever they can.  The teams from the same school do NOT do the device testing at walk-in events at the same time.  They are completely independent.  The idea behind having all of the teams from the same school take the written tests at the same time is that, otherwise, after one team took the tests, they could tell the other teams all about it.  With devices, it does not matter.  We have impound.

13. Would you ask the judges if the kids can clean the track (floor) of dirt and dust before they compete in Wheeled Vehicle and Scrambler?

This is a good question.  Yes, they can clean the floor but only if they use something dry - like a paper towel.  NO LIQUIDS or the janitors will put down mats that will make it impossible to run the event.

14. Storm the Castle

At our meeting Wednesday, the event captain for Storm said about the designs of the devices:
FAT = OK,  F2K = DQ.

15. Mystery Architecture - Having a scissors will be very helpful.

16. Music Q & A.

 Q. Is it o.k. for the students to mark the notes on their instruments (e.g.. 4C, 4D, 4D#...)?

A. I would say yes.  However, if I have to judge a team that played perfect pitch/scales without marking their notes and one who did mark the notes, I would score the team who had not marked them higher.  So, they can do it but it will be held against them if someone else can do it without that "aid".

Q. The duet pieces the students have picked are mostly from piano music which has the treble clef part and the bass clef part on one page. Do the students have to turn in their parts on separate pages (a page of only treble clef and a page of only bass clef) or will they be allowed to turn in one page written as piano music with the treble and bass clef on one page?

A. Either way seems fine to me because it is not specified in the directions.  Since one person will be judging, it doesn't matter if they hand in both clefs on the same staff or different pages.

Q. As I interpret the rules it suggests the judges will want one page of music for the duet from each student with only their appropriate clef on it but I don't want to tell the students the wrong thing.

A. As I said previously, this doesn't matter.

We had one instrument where the student's instrument pitch showed a slight but noticeable difference from my tuner. The pitch matched perfectly to the students electronic tuner. Will the students be allowed to bring their personal electronic tuner in case there is a discrepancy from the judges?

A. the only way we can judge this objectively is to use a tuning device brought  by the judge. Sorry- directions state no tuning devices can be brought by  the students

Q. Is the coach of the event allowed to help the students move their instruments in yes and help to set them up No in the room? A couple of our instruments are large
and have many pieces. I know the coaches can't stay for the performance or the testing. If I can't go in to help the students with their instruments, can I sit outside with them or am I not supposed to be by the room at all. Please clarify.

A. No participation by the coach - at all.  As I think about it, it would be a good thing for the coaches not to hang around the rooms.  They may hear the questions that are being asked of other students.  It is not as if they have never heard the instruments play before.

17. Would you ask the judges if the kids can clean the track (floor) of dirt and dust before they compete in Wheeled Vehicle and Scrambler?

This is a good question.  Yes, they can clean the floor but only if they use something dry - like a paper towel.  NO LIQUIDS or the janitors will put down mats that will make it impossible to run the event.

18. Food Science event captain:

The students should be familiar with the concepts of bomb calorimetry and how to analyze data from a bomb calorimeter. However, they will not be asked to set up a bomb calorimeter. For division B, any station that requires lab work will be accompanied with what, I hope, is a clear protocol-- so these students shouldn't have to "memorize" experimental setup, but just understand it. You could tell them to use the web link available for division C in order to teach the younger students the core concepts of bomb calorimetry. They will need to be able to analyze nutritional tables (for other stations), but not in the context of bomb calorimetry.

19. Mission Possible:

Q. What is the minimum slope of the inclined plane?

There is no requirement for the minimum slope - it just has to be sloped enough so that the object you have in mind rolls or slides down it.

Can the tennis ball that starts the action be dropped from outside the box?


Exactly where (at what point) will the toilet paper be measured? Is it from the base of the roll, or from the point at which the paper leaves the roll - from the top of the roll?

This is an interesting question.  I have read the event description carefully, and it does not specify.  We are going to be flexible about this and let the teams specify - BEFORE starting their devices - from what point they want to have the tissue measured. 

If we get 1 point per second for bonus points, are these points (up to thirty) to be completed within the 60 second un-penalized time period of operation?

The event description does not specify that the bonus points for pouring sand or water must be at any particular time.  So, no - the action that will result in bonus points does not have to take place during the first 60 seconds.

20. Awesome Aquifer:

1) The containers they bring for model construction at Station 3 must be completely empty upon arrival (or they may be deemed outside the rules.)

2) They may prepare notes at Station 3 for use at Station 4, but pre-prepared notes or written material will not be allowed and will be considered outside the rules. (I will have the Event Room Monitor at Station 3 supply the groups with paper which they can use for notes. This paper will be a pastel color of some sort, so that I know, as the Judge at Station 4, that the notes were not pre-prepared.)

3) They will be given 5 concepts from the list to explain/demonstrate in 5 minutes in any order or combination they wish. They must however let the judge know what concept(s) they are about to explain before each demonstration. A timer will be visible to the group demonstrating so that they can manage their own time.

4) The teams will have 5 MINUTES for their aquifer demonstrations. Although the event description indicates 10 minutes, we must reduce this to 5 minutes to be able to give all the teams a chance to participate.

5) They need to make sure each team of kids has EVERYTHING they need to construct their aquifer demonstration devices! Each team is responsible for bringing ALL of their OWN materials.

6) Stations 1 and 2 are the written test sections - these will be combined into a single written test (multiple choice and short answer).





(The questions and answers posted here were obtained from the emails forwarded by Cindy Morrin, the CVMS Science Olympiad Coordinator)



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Last modified: March 22, 2006