Dealing with Schedule Conflicts

Q: We have a conflict for one of our students who is competing in one event and a different event at the same time. For our school they are both scheduled for the same time slot. Is it possible to change one slot for an earlier slot? (section: / paragraph:  / sub-paragraph:  / line: )

A: No. This is the biggest challenge for everyone and it is part of the competition. There are no exceptions made for conflict challenges in the schedule.

There is important rationale involving the logistics of the day and the number of teams participating at any given time, but the important answer is that the schedule is firm and teams must participate at their assigned time. Teams with greater depth (more students prepared for more events) have an advantage, which is part of the overall competition.

You might ask, "what if I can find another school that will switch with me?" The response remains "no." Sometimes switching can create problems in scoring, especially if there is a question related to the team's results or exam. The schedule is firm.

Engineering Design

Q: We missed the first submission deadline. Can we still participate and submit?

A: Absolutely! Meeting the deadlines is part of the competition, but we encourage you to work on this event even if you missed the first submission deadline. Teams who miss a deadline will still be scored and receive points. Teams that meet all of the deadlines on time will be scored in a higher tier that those who miss a deadline ... but we hope you will still engage in this challenge.

Q: How would you like us to submit information for the Engineering Design due dates?  Will there be an electronic form like Pill Bugs last year?  If so, when will that form be available? Should we scan and upload the drawings?  (section: Engineering/ paragraph:  / sub-paragraph:  / line: 22)

A: Yes, there will be an online form that will include instructions posted prior to the due dates.

Can Race

Q: Can you clarify the types of can allowed? Can it be based on cardboard (i.e. trader joe's coffee can)? If cardboard is allowed, can you use any round tube made with cardboard as body of the can? (section: / paragraph:  / sub-paragraph:  / line: )

A: The can used for the "Can Race" vehicle must be a commercially produced can. A cardboard coffee can would be acceptable.

It may not be constructed from alternate materials, even though they may be similar to the materials used in the can. The intent of the event is to take a can, and turn it into a racer.

Engineering Design

Q: What if our devices require different items from the materials list from the first due date? Sometimes revisions require new materials. (section: First due date/ paragraph:  3/ sub-paragraph:  / line: 2)

A: No additional materials are permitted after the original design and materials list have been submitted. While students may have new or better ideas after the initial testing, the intent of the event is to revise the design within the limits of the original materials list. Adding new materials would be an interesting, but different event.


QDoes the liquid have to be cooled in a cup? (section:  Description/ paragraph:  / sub-paragraph:  / line: 1)

A: Yes. The design challenge is to cool the "Lemonade" in a cup of the common variety that would be available in a food store.

Q:  The online submission requires background research.  I understand that references are to be used to conduct this research, but I'm not sure how to present the research.  Should we provide a paragraph or two summarizing our findings?(section: 7/ paragraph:  1/ sub-paragraph:  / line: 2)

A: You may decide how best to present your findings. Written paragraphs are reasonable. Please reference text and online resources in your summary.

Q: Under first due date it states they cannot add items to their design once the plans are submitted. Under the 2nd due date, it states that students have made at least 2 revisions to their device based on experiments using "distilled water".  Can the device only be revised with the materials already submitted or can new materials be added based on findings and trials? Aren't revisions based on findings? If the findings conclude that the original materials listed aren't working, then can't they be changed? (section: 3/ paragraph: 1 / sub-paragraph:  / line:2 )

A: No new materials are to be added after the initial submission. The intent is to revise the existing design, not create a new design. See a similar question posed and posted in the clarifications section of the website.

The "lemonade" is mixed by the students using distilled water.

Q: Are there any specific requirements for the dimensions of the Engineering design? When are the dates of each submission required by?  (section: A11 / paragraph:  / sub-paragraph:  / line: )

A: The due dates are listed online - check the tab labeled "Online Events." There is no specific size requirement for the device. Reasonability and common sense indicate that the students must be able to handle and manipulate it without adult assistance.

Q: Do we use distill water?  (section: Recipe for Lemonade/ paragraph:  / sub-paragraph:  / line: 1)

A: Yes. The instructions indicate that distilled water is to be used.


Barge Building

Q: It says that the event supervisor will inform each team of the average mass of each cargo piece before they begin their construction. Since there are several units that might be used, will we be given this information in advance? (section: 3 / paragraph:  / sub-paragraph:  / line: 1)

A: That information will be provided the day of the Science Olympiad, just before the students begin to construct.


Engineering Design

Q: The rules for Engineering Design say that you cannot use any new materials after the original materials list is submitted, but what about their revisions? Shouldn't new materials be allowed? (section:  6/ paragraph:  / sub-paragraph:  / line: 7)

A: The 2017 Engineering Design challenge includes design and problem solving design within certain constraints, and one of those is the materials.

No new materials should be used in the design revisions.

It might also be interesting to let them explore and come up with an entirely new idea - but that would be a different challenge. In this case a priority is to limit the focus and allow revision only within the constraints of the initial materials.

Q: Can students use a metal cup?  (section: First due date/ paragraph:  / sub-paragraph:  / line: 7)

A: Yes. A metal cup is acceptable, as long as it meets the other requirements. That is, it must be a common item available at food store.


QWhere is the link for Biomass quiz?  This is our only practice day during the week.  My students can not take the quiz by the 19th if the link is not posted. (section: 1 / paragraph:  / sub-paragraph:  / line: )

A: Thank you for your patience. We had a posting delay. The quiz will be posted later today and we will extend the deadline one week to January 26th at 11:45 PM. You can find the link in Online Events for Biomass.

Q:  We see on the description of the event that students are to grow a plan from a seed, give a report, and take a quiz.  It says on the website that there is a January 19th date for submitting an online quiz.  Where is the link to a quiz that we are to have students take?  When I click the link, I have information about the plant to submit.  Is this what they are supposed to do on January 19th? (section:  1/ paragraph:  / sub-paragraph:  / line: 1)

A: The quiz link will be posted by the end of this week. You can find the link in Online Events under Biomass.

QIn the handbook it does not mention the quiz. My students are wondering what to study or how to prepare. Do you have any recommendations?  (section:  Event Description-Specifically the on-line quiz/ paragraph:  / sub-paragraph:  / line: )

A: The online quiz will be about various topics about plants, plant growth, soil conditions etc.

Event Description for Fossil Find



The Fossil Find event will vary from the rules printed in the Rules Manual. As with all the events in the Los Angeles County Elementary Science Olympiad, the duration will be 30 minutes. The colored pencils/crayons described in the event manual will not be needed and students will not draw fossils and place them in a grid.

Fossil Find may be organized as a station rotation event where students move from station to station with a very short stay at each station. Note that while reference notes and written resources are permitted, the rapid rotation time may influence how you prepare those notes and resources.

Students should be prepared to identify common fossils from samples, reproductions, or photos. This may include identifying the kingdom, phylum, or class. Students should be able to tell what habitat the fossil might be found in, especially aquatic or terrestrial. Students should be able to identify the geologic time period when the fossil might have been found. Students may be asked to describe the organism represented by the fossil. Students may be asked to justify their responses (tell why they think that is the correct response).

Students should understand and be prepared to describe how fossils are formed and the general types of fossils.

Fossils may include, but may not be limited to: 

  • Coelenterates, for example: horn coral 
  • Brachiopods, for example: bivalves 
  • Arthropods, for example: trilobites, eurypterids 
  • Echinodermata, for example: sea urchin, blastoid, crinoid stem 
  • Mollusca, for example: ammonites, gastropods, pelecypods, orthoceras 
  • Vertebrata, for example: fish, shark teeth, dinosaur bones 
  • Plants: including petrified wood and leaf impressions 
  • Fossilized dinosaur tracks 
  • Insects preserved in amber or fossilized 

Image from

Where are the Rules for Team Problem Solving?

Q: Where are the rules for Team Problem Solving? I didn't see this in the Rules Manual. Thanks (section: 1 / paragraph:  / sub-paragraph:  / line: 1)

A: An official event description for Team Problem Solving is not published in the Coaches Manual. Team Problem Solving, developed by the Los Angeles County Science Olympiad, will be on the schedule of events this year.

The official event description for Team Problem Solving is published on this Web site in the Rules and Updates > 2017 Division A Rules Updates > Event Description for Team Problem Solving section.

Event Description for Team Problem Solving

Team Problem Solving

Number of Students: Up to 3

Event Description:

Team Problem Solving requires students to respond to a problem or challenge that is presented live during the competition at the Science Olympiad.

The challenge may include construction of a device from materials provided, a written solution or description of an approach to solving a problem, or an annotated drawing of model that describes a solution to the problem. The problem may involve a combination of tasks. Specific details and a description of the challenge will not be provided in advance.

Collaboration and teamwork are emphasized. The challenge may allow for multiple successful solutions. There may be multiple solutions to the challenge.

The Team Problem Solving challenge is designed to require students to work together to solve a challenge. We might refer to this as the “event you can prepare for but not plan for,” meaning that students cannot specifically study or plan for a specific challenge, but they can prepare by developing general inquiry and problem solving strategies. For example:  

  • Can the students communicate effectively as they consider and evaluate ways to respond to the problem?
  • Are the students able to take turns, listen, consider each other’s ideas?
  • Can they test and revise an idea based on trial and error?
  • Do they have the ability to remain calm when faced with uncertainty?
  • Are the students able to see innovative uses for common materials?
  • Can they construct a device using simple materials, including tying knots, using tape and glue, and simple tools?
  • Can they use science process skills to develop a strategy to solve a problem?
  • Can the students clearly describe in writing the steps used to complete a procedure or test to gather data.
  • Can the students discuss, analyze and draw conclusions about data they generate or that is provided to them?

Please refer also to the document Preparing for the Elementary Science Olympiad, posted on this website.

Division A MODIFIED Weather or Not Event Description Online

The 2017 Weather or Not event will be administered in an online game format.

The event will follow the rules for the standard Weather or Not event listed in the official rules manual from the National Science Olympiad, with the exception listed below. 

Participants will be required to bring one internet-enabled device (iPad, Android tablet, Chromebook, iPhone, laptop, etc.) The device must be able to connect to the guest network at Occidental College. Note: If the device can connect to public WiFi networks it will be able to connect to the Occidental public, guest network. You can test your connection at any McDonalds, Starbucks or other place with "free WiFi."

Teams will be directed at the event to a website to take the quiz.


  • Item three (3) listed in the official rules will not be included in the 2017 competition. The competition will include:
  • Student teams will be given a test on basic weather terms and techniques. Material may include cloud charts, simple scientific weather instruments (such as thermometers, barometers, etc.) weather patterns, severe weather photos, major weather events/disasters of the past years and other weather charts, graphs, tables, photographs, drawings, diagrams, or videos.
  • Questions may also include states of water, water cycle, weather terminology, atmosphere, weather instruments and their function, seasonal changes in weather, weather safety and types of severe weather and watches/warnings.


Division A Pasta (& Meatball) Mobile MODIFIED Event Description Now Posted Online

The Pasta (&Meatball) Mobile event will follow the rules for the standard Pastamobile event listed in the official rules manual from the National Science Olympiad. However, the size of the cart may be increased in order to accommodate the ping pong ball load. The maximum size listed in Procedure 2 from the rules is increased to 30cm x 15cm x 30cm.

Here are clarifications for the modified Pasta (& Meatball) Mobile

  • The ping pong ball will be standard size and weight, competition grade, ping pong ball supplied by the event supervisor.
  • The ping pong ball must be carried by the cart without the use of any adhesive.
  • The ping ball will be loaded at the top of the ramp while the cart is in a vertical position and should remain on the cart as it travels.
  • Scoring will be the same as the criteria listed in the official rules, with additional points for Pasta (& Meatball) Mobiles that successfully carry the ping pong ball the entire length of the run with the ball still in place when the cart stops moving.

Additional details for the modified Pasta (& Meatball) Mobile can be downloaded from this web page.

Division A Earth Processes Event Description Now Posted Online

An official event description for Earth Processes is not published in the Coaches Manual. Earth Processesdeveloped by the Los Angeles County Science Olympiad, will be on the schedule of events this year.

The official event description for Earth Processes can be downloaded here in the Rules Updates.

A presentation on Science Processes formatted as a portable document format (PDF) contains description of all 8 science process skills and includes sample questions that emphasize a particular science process. 


Division A Biomass Event Description Now Posted Online

This year's Biomass event will follow the rules for the standard Biomass event listed in the official rules manual from the National Science Olympiad, with the added requirement that students submit all data and observations using the online response form prior to the day of competition. All measurements, observations, and other reporting will be submitted online only. NOTE: Students will not bring the plant or experimental materials on the day of the Science Olympiad.

A link to the online submission form is provided on the LA Regional Science Olympiad website. 

Additional information about the Biomass event is contained on this Biomass Event Description.



Division A Engineering Design Event Description Now Posted Online

An official event description for Engineering Design is not published in the Coaches Manual. Engineering Design, developed by the Los Angeles County Science Olympiad, will be on the schedule of events this year.

The official event description for Engineering Design can be downloaded here in the Rules Updates.