A national discussion:regional differences

taaffeite
Member
Member
Posts: 14
Joined: March 21st, 2014, 8:28 pm
Division: Grad
State: NY

A national discussion:regional differences

Postby taaffeite » March 24th, 2014, 9:35 am

I hope to encourage a discussion of standardizing procedures across regional, state and national competitions.

State and regional competitions don't always use the same schedule as Nationals. To complicate things further, events are sometimes run differently at Regionals and States than at Nationals. For teams that end up going to Nationals, the differences, regardless of how small, introduce handicaps. This is particularly problematic if States and Nationals differ. Having to shuffle around events that late in the game often means that some members have had far less time to prepare for events than those on other teams. It would be the equivalent of adding a number of events to a team when students have to prepare for extra events for states that they won't be on at Nationals (or have to start studying for new events after States) only because of scheduling issues.It makes less time available for the events they will be competing with at Nationals. Likewise when rules change from States to Nationals students must scurry to make changes. In science terms, the issue is one of validity. To what extent is performance at Regionals and States valid indicators of performance at Nationals and to what extent is the pervious experiences at Regionals and States equivalent preparation for Nationals. Is the playing field as level as possible for all teams heading into Nationals?

When SO started the primary goal may have been to run regionals in as many places across the country as possible. Some regions didn’t have resources to run all events in a standardized way. Communication problems made it difficult to ensure that all were run using exactly the same procedures. But we are now in the year 2014. There are no regions in the US without proper schools and the internet makes ensuring reliable procedures possible. And, while it may be impossible to standardize schedules and events in all situations, should that now be the goal? What is the justification for such large regional differences? It is no longer a mom and pop operation. Millions of dollars are involved. I question the justification for treating SO like it was a local club where local officials dictate regional differences. But I have not heard the officials discuss this issue. This year a few troubling situations highlights the need for everyone to better understand decision making and how the chain of command and SO values dictate regional, state and national rules (from registration to event scheduling). To what extent does and should the preferences of various local and state officials dictate differences? What is the role/responsibility of the National officials in standardizing procedures at the regional and state level?

There are easy ways to standardize the schedules and events. For example, Regionals and States could have only the number of events that the smallest venue can offer. But, this thread is intended to foster a discussion of the goal. Once the goal is established, specifics can be decided upon.

What do you think?

abby1kanobe
Member
Member
Posts: 46
Joined: September 19th, 2011, 2:45 pm
Division: B
State: TN

Re: A national discussion:regional differences

Postby abby1kanobe » March 24th, 2014, 10:22 am

I could not agree more with what you have stated. Why do some states create thier own events and delete known events as what North Carolina has done time and time again. We in Tennessee fought for several years for the state to adhere to the national standards and as of this year our state board and coaches are working hand in hand to create an amiable schedule. I wonder why a state would go against the national schedule when all it will do is hamper how that state is represented on the national stage?

I believe we need coaches to all get together and just advise thier regional director and state directors on what they feel is best for the kids. At the end of the day this program was created for the students and if we want our students to be successful at the national level then each state should adhere and mimic what the national director puts out there.

I realize that at times regional directors have issues with voulenteers and it can hamper thier ability to get all the events to go off when we all want them to. That being said, I bet if you asked all the coaches they would rather have a simple test that can be administered and graded by anyone then no event at all. We have kids who work for 8-9 months preparing for the state tournament and in years past we would have no idea what the state schedule was until only a few weeks prior to competition. Who does that help??? I would assume it would work to the advantage of whoever has the best luck on the day of the draw. Now with TN adhering(mostly) to the national schedule our students can prepare all year and not have to worry about all thier events overlapping.

I have heard several ideas about standardized regional testings and I think it would be easier on the regional directors if all the directors from the state got together and split up the events and each made exams for 3-4 event and them pooled them to be admistered in all regional tournaments. This would take a huge load off of each regional director and keep the playing field even.

Some times its the simple ideas that get most resistance.

chalker
Member
Member
Posts: 2089
Joined: January 9th, 2009, 7:30 pm
Division: Grad
State: OH

Re: A national discussion:regional differences

Postby chalker » March 24th, 2014, 10:52 am

.....Communication problems made it difficult to ensure that all were run using exactly the same procedures. But we are now in the year 2014. There are no regions in the US without proper schools and the internet makes ensuring reliable procedures possible. And, while it may be impossible to standardize schedules and events in all situations, should that now be the goal? What is the justification for such large regional differences? It is no longer a mom and pop operation. Millions of dollars are involved. I question the justification for treating SO like it was a local club where local officials dictate regional differences. But I have not heard the officials discuss this issue. This year a few troubling situations highlights the need for everyone to better understand decision making and how the chain of command and SO values dictate regional, state and national rules (from registration to event scheduling). To what extent does and should the preferences of various local and state officials dictate differences? What is the role/responsibility of the National officials in standardizing procedures at the regional and state level?
......
Glad to hear you are concerned about this and looking to foster a discussion. However perhaps some insight into some of the issues involved will frame it appropriately and ensure you don't chase unachievable goals. A couple comments in response to those above:

-You'd be amazed at how communication can STILL be an issue. Even though we issue an updated rule book every year, we constantly hear stories of people using old versions of rules to run events. And while most people know about the FAQs and Clarifications online, many people totally miss those.

-It's not a mom and pop operation - it's a grass roots, volunteer driven organization. Yes, technically there are several millions of dollars involved, but the vast majority of that funding goes to things like printing the manuals, buying trophies and medals, running the websites, etc. Very little goes to pay for people's time.

-More importantly, it's not just ONE organization. There is the national office that provides the overall umbrella. But in most states there is a 501c3 non-profit that runs the show. Thus while there is a bit of a 'chain of command', the actual oversight roles and responsibilities are a little murky.

Consider the following:
~300 tournaments each year
x 46 events at a typical tournament
=13,800 event supervisors needed

Almost every one of those supervisors is a volunteer, doing this in their free time. Hence there's bound to be issues with consistency, scheduling, etc. I'm sure there is room for improvement, and welcome your enthusiasm in facilitating it. Just please try to keep the realities of the situation in mind as part of your aspirations.

Student Alumni
National Event Supervisor
National Physical Sciences Rules Committee Chair

User avatar
EastStroudsburg13
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 3027
Joined: January 17th, 2009, 7:32 am
Division: Grad
State: MD
Location: At work trying to be a real adult
Contact:

Re: A national discussion:regional differences

Postby EastStroudsburg13 » March 24th, 2014, 10:57 am

Another possible smaller issue I see is that some people who are running events might want to run two events that conflict at nationals, and so the schedule must be altered. For example, at nationals Astronomy and Materials Science conflict (which in my opinion is really unfortunate, since those are both events that I find really interesting), but if there is a supervisor in a particular state that wants to run both of them, then they have to change the schedule to accommodate that.

Also, different schedules means that teams will not have the same conflicts at every tournament, but that's not quite as compelling, and one could argue that that supports the argument for standardized schedules.
East Stroudsburg South Class of 2012, Alumnus of JT Lambert, Drexel University Class of 2017

Helpful Links
Wiki
Wiki Pages that Need Work
FAQ and SciOly FAQ Wiki
Chat (See IRC Wiki for more info)
BBCode Wiki


If you have any questions for me, always feel free to shoot me a PM.

taaffeite
Member
Member
Posts: 14
Joined: March 21st, 2014, 8:28 pm
Division: Grad
State: NY

Re: A national discussion:regional differences

Postby taaffeite » March 24th, 2014, 11:14 am

Seems like it would help to first establish a goal.Maybe this forum will help determine the sentiments about the schedule issues. Is the goal that the schedules for Regionals and States be as close to the National schedule as possible? If so, the pragmatics would be guided by that goal even if it is not always actualized. There would be a concerted effort to avoid regional preferences that depart from the goal if the reason for the departure is simply because a particular official likes things that way. Simply having a discussion about these issues will help enhance the perception of openness even if it results in thing remaining the same.

Astroknight
Member
Member
Posts: 90
Joined: February 27th, 2014, 8:57 pm
Division: C
State: TN
Location: The middle of somewhere

Re: A national discussion:regional differences

Postby Astroknight » March 24th, 2014, 11:20 am

One thing I think could help with scheduling is to have two slots for every event that can be signed up for. This way, there would be minimal event overlap, and most people would be able to do every event they've wanted to. I've seen this model in one state competition (Mississippi I think). A solution for Regionals would be to have the person who's the state supervisor for an event also write the tests for the Regional competitions. Another problem with Regional competitions is zoning (or lack there of). I know in many states it's predetermined which Regional you go to. In Tennessee, you can decide which Regional to go to. At our Regional, it's only three schools: Us (Cedar Springs Homeschool), Bearden, and Athens City. Schools have consistently been moving to other Regionals, presumably (at least it's what I've heard) because they're scared of us and Bearden. If there was zoning, the state bids would be a lot more fair and consistent.
TSA's pretty cool... i guess

2015 events:
Essays on Technology, Tech Bowl, Water Infrastructure, Website Design

Jdogg
Member
Member
Posts: 169
Joined: May 19th, 2011, 6:00 pm
Division: Grad
State: PA
Location: Harriton > PSU

Re: A national discussion:regional differences

Postby Jdogg » March 24th, 2014, 11:48 am

This discussion comes up just about every year. To run every tournament the same way would be impossible. I would like to point out that some tournaments don't even run every event. Some tournaments have to work around the event logistics. I had to help run 2 events at my regional competition and it wouldn't have been possible given the national schedule. If I wouldn't have volunteered then the event would not have been run. Although most state competitions have the resources and capabilities to run the nats schedule it's not always the best from the event coordinators perspective.
I would also like to say that this only truly benefits the top team or top 2 teams in the state or 1% of the teams in the nation. Plus the best teams in the nation should be able to adapt their team to preform well at any competition with any schedule. My old team used to have several people doing each event that at the end of the day could be put in to do well (maybe not as well as a different combination of students, but still admirable). I mean if your team has just two people studying for each event and no way to deal with a scheduling conflict, you are doing something wrong.
The one thing that I could see is making a mandate that trial/state events should not be counted towards the teams score (like at nationals). But this will also make those events not as competitive.
Harriton Class of 2013
Vice-Deputy of Avionics and Control for Lunar Lion
Assistant Coach of State College High School

taaffeite
Member
Member
Posts: 14
Joined: March 21st, 2014, 8:28 pm
Division: Grad
State: NY

Re: A national discussion:regional differences

Postby taaffeite » March 24th, 2014, 12:13 pm

I have heard that argument before. If it only hurts the must successful team or two it is a nonissue. That logic is fine if you don't believe in the competitive nature of the enterprise. if you do believe that it is a competition, then logic would suggest not handicapping the most successful teams. Rather, the goal would be to actually win at every level. The state organizer should have winning at the National level as a priority. By Little League the goal of awarding everyone with a trophy is no longer endorsed.

Jdogg
Member
Member
Posts: 169
Joined: May 19th, 2011, 6:00 pm
Division: Grad
State: PA
Location: Harriton > PSU

Re: A national discussion:regional differences

Postby Jdogg » March 24th, 2014, 12:41 pm

I have heard that argument before. If it only hurts the must successful team or two it is a nonissue. That logic is fine if you don't believe in the competitive nature of the enterprise. if you do believe that it is a competition, then logic would suggest not handicapping the most successful teams. Rather, the goal would be to actually win at every level. The state organizer should have winning at the National level as a priority. By Little League the goal of awarding everyone with a trophy is no longer endorsed.
I personally believe that the state supervisors should not have winning at the National level as a priority. I believe that state supervisors and coordinators should put their priority in having a competition that is fun, challenging, and educational for the students.
Also to say that I don't believe in the competitive nature of science olympiad is just plan wrong. I understand the amount of work and effort that each student puts into their events. I know exactly how much effort it takes to win a event at the national level.
Plus in no way does this handicap the most successful teams. Some people might say that it makes the team more well rounded for future competitions, I would.
I understand that you might be frustrated with the way your state competition and regional competitions are run. Maybe looking at Ohio and seeing that their teams do so well year to year (even though their regional competitions are run very uniquely) and seeing that they run the national level schedule at states. But the real reason Ohio does well is because of the students, not because of the competition.
Harriton Class of 2013
Vice-Deputy of Avionics and Control for Lunar Lion
Assistant Coach of State College High School

taaffeite
Member
Member
Posts: 14
Joined: March 21st, 2014, 8:28 pm
Division: Grad
State: NY

Re: A national discussion:regional differences

Postby taaffeite » March 24th, 2014, 12:53 pm

Just to be clear, I am not involved in SO any more. I'm bringing this up as an issue but not out of frustration. I was aware of it as an issue but never heard the various sides discuss it.


Return to “2014 Nationals”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest