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  Academics - Science Olympiad

Get ready!  The Idaho Science Olympiad will be held on Saturday, April 11, 2015 at Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) in Nampa.

Idaho’s Science Olympiad Site at NNU www.soinc.org/idaho
The National Science Olympiad Site 

Science Olympiad

What is it?

The Science Olympiad is a national science competition for junior and senior high school students. Like the Olympics for which it is named, the Science Olympiad consists of many different events. Students, in teams of up to fifteen, compete in as many events as possible. This year’s state competition will occur on Saturday, April 11, 2015 at Northwest Nazarene University. Students in the 6th through 9th grades are eligible to compete at the junior high or “B” level. Students in the 9th through 12th grades compete at the senior high or “C” level.


Excitement and Fun

The Science Olympiad puts science in the context of team-oriented competition.  The thrills, excitement, and suspense all combined in a festival atmosphere add a life to science that is seldom seen. Students prepare for one or more of the possible twenty-three events in small groups under the guidance of a teacher or parent volunteer. The small group allows friends and buddies to prepare together while working in the context of a larger team of up to fifteen students.


St. Joe’s History

St. Joe’s has had a strong Science Olympiad program for many years. The current Science Olympiad State Director, Gary Carlson, is a past St. Joe’s parent. He guided the school’s program for several years. Our middle school Science teacher and Science Olympiad Head Coach, Mary McClure, has led St. Joe’s to winning state competitions in 2002, 2003, 2005 through 2011 and 2014.  Our school then went on to represent Idaho at the national competitions.  This year we have a record number of students participating in Science Olympiad: 8 teams and 100+ students.


Choosing an Event and Team Placement

At St. Joe’s all 7th and 8th graders have the option of participating in either Science Fair or Science Olympiad. All 6th graders participate in Science Fair which is held each year in December here at St. Joe's. Those seventh and eighth grade students who choose Science Olympiad are required to participate in at least 3 but not more than 4 events. Events have been assigned taking into account the students’ preferences. The students have been divided into teams of not more than 15 based upon the following factors: grade, experience, and past performance. The final decision on team rosters and student placement was at the discretion of the Head Coach. Team rosters have been posted. A school team may compete in as many or as few events as they want. For maximum team points, a team should try to compete in as many events as possible. Gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded to students based on their performance in a particular event. Thus, it is quite possible for a small team to win medals in the events in which they have competed. Team size or event coverage by a team does not limit the achievement of the individual student.

Parent Participation

Most of the event coaches are parent volunteers. At St. Joe’s, we are very fortunate to have several returning coaches; however, there are still events that need a coach. A parent does not need to be an expert in a particular field to help a student prepare for an event.  Also, this year we would like to get assistant coaches for each event. If you have an interest in coaching, please let Mrs. McClure know as soon as possible. For a few events, coaching is scheduled to begin in December while the remainder will start in January.


For More Information

A monthly newsletter will be posted on the St. Joe’s website.  If you have any questions, please contact Mary McClure 342-4909, email mcclurem@stjoes.com. Also, you can check out the Idaho Science Olympiad site at www.nnu.edu/2535 or the national site at http://www.soinc.org/.


Frequently Asked Questions about St. Joseph’s Science Olympiad Program

Q1:  How are Science Olympiad teams chosen?

A1: The following factors are taken into consideration to initially divide the teams up:  Grade, Experience, and Previous Performance. The final decision on team rosters and student placement will be at the discretion of Mrs. McClure (the Head Coach). For example, the varsity team will be composed of older students who have performed well in previous SO competitions. The six graders will typically be on their own teams.

Q2:  Can you mix grades within the same team?

A2:  Yes, the criteria for dividing the teams up usually results with teams of combined seventh and eighth graders.

Q3:  Can students change teams?

A3:  Yes, under strict conditions:  A: The Head Coach needs to agree, B:  The student has to agree, and C: No other student can be displaced from an event on the new team.

Q4:  If St. Joes wins state, who determines who goes to the national competition?

A4:  This question is up to each school. At St Joe’s the selection of the national team will be based on the following criteria: A: Achievement at the state competition, B: Participation in event preparation, and C: Commitment to prepare for nationals.  The Head Coach will determine the ultimate selection of the national team and event assignment.

Q5:  How many events must a student do?

A5:  This year all seventh and eighth St. Joe’s SO students must participate in at least three and preferably not more than four events. The purpose here is for the team to compete in all the events if possible, but not over-burden the student or allow one student to hog events.

Q6:  Who are the event coaches and when/ where will the coaching be held?

A6:  Most of the coaches are parent volunteers. Each coach determines when and where coaching sessions will occur. For most events, coaching is done at St. Joe’s after school and usually on a weekly basis. However, some coaches hold sessions at lunch, before school or on weekends. Your child will be notified when/where coaching will take place either by the coach or by a posting in the Science room. 

Q7:  What if there is not a coach for an event?

A7:  This has happened and a student wishing to participate in that event must study on his or her own and solicit help where they can.

Q8:  What if no one on a team participates in an event?

A8:  That event will go unfilled by the team.  In such a case we encourage students to walk into that event “cold” just to salvage a few points.  Note, however, that due to prior dissatisfaction, we do not allow a walk-in score to count towards membership on the national team. A student should be signed up a month in advance, or a last minute fill-in for a sick teammate to count that score for the national team.

Q9:  How are events assigned to students?

A9:  The students sign up for their favorite three or four events. If there are not too many students vying for that event, then they own it. 

Q10:  Can my student compete on more than one team?

A10:  No. National rules strictly prohibit this.

Q11:  My student just found out that she signed up on the same event as Joe Blow (who is a real slacker).  They are the only two on that event and she will end up stuck with him as a partner.  What should we do?

A11:  Learn to work with Joe the best she can. The best case is to learn how to work with the many types of people that you will encounter in life.

Q12:  My student is a whiz at his event.  He would do better operating solo since another student would just slow him down.

A12:  Working with others is part of the SO. Your student may end up tutoring or helping the partner he gets “stuck” with. He may also end up learning patience, perseverance and a few other virtues.

Q13:  My student’s partner just dropped out.  Now my student is all alone.  What do I do?

A13:  Recruit a friend or just bring along another teammate for company.

Q14:  When and where will the state Science Olympiad competition be held?

A14:  The 2015 Idaho State Tournament will be held on April 11, 2015 at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho.

Q15:  When and where is the 2013 national competition?

A15:   The 2015 Science Olympiad National Tournament will be held at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska on May 15-16, 2015.





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